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Police are expected to release more details about Colorado Springs Club Q shooting

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Police in Colorado Springs continue to update the public on their investigation into the shooting at Club Q, a queer nightclub where five people were killed Saturday night. A 22-year-old man is in custody, and it's unclear whether he'll be charged with a hate crime. Colorado Public Radio is following this closely for us. And joining us now is May Ortega.

Hi, May.

MAY ORTEGA, BYLINE: Hi, Juana.

SUMMERS: So, May, if, in fact, the suspected shooter is charged with a hate crime or crimes, what could that mean for him?

ORTEGA: Well, at this point, there is a lot we don't know yet. So before we talk about specific charges, let's talk about what we do know. We know that police filed an arrest affidavit, but early yesterday morning, that was sealed by the courts at prosecutors' request. However, the district attorney has told CPR that no charges have been filed. The suspected shooter, though, has been arrested. The DA says they're reviewing the case, and we could potentially see formal charges in the next couple of days. And as of early this afternoon, police say the shooter was still in the hospital.

Now, if the shooter is charged with multiple counts of murder, well, those charges alone could mean life in prison. So if the shooter is also charged with committing a hate crime, those charges wouldn't necessarily result in him serving additional time. Colorado's hate crime laws can add four to 10 years onto sentences, though, and Colorado does not carry the death penalty. So life is the heaviest sentence possible here. Again, prosecutors will - prosecutors tell us no charges have been filed yet.

SUMMERS: And, May, at this point, have police confirmed the names of the five people who were killed there?

ORTEGA: Right now, we only have one name confirmed, and that's Daniel Aston, who was 28. He was transgender and a bartender and performer at Club Q, where the shooting happened. Police have not yet confirmed names of any of the other four victims. We can also say Colorado Springs Police recently updated the number of people injured in the shooting. It's gone down from 25 to 19. And police now say a total of 17 of those 19 people were injured by gunfire.

SUMMERS: And what are police telling you about the suspected gunman's motives?

ORTEGA: Well, like I said before, today, prosecutors sealed the affidavit for the arrest. So all we know for sure is that he is a 22-year-old man from Colorado Springs who was previously arrested by police here for calling in a bomb threat against his mother. Officials here, though, didn't explain how that was resolved.

SUMMERS: I have to imagine that the LGBTQ community there in Colorado Springs is taking this incredibly hard. It's heart-wrenching. What are you hearing from people there?

ORTEGA: Yeah, you're totally right. Here is 32-year-old Shanika Mosely, who we spoke to in the Club Q parking lot yesterday. She says it was one of the very few spaces where gay, lesbian, trans and other queer people could truly feel like themselves.

SHANIKA MOSELY: It hurts that we'll probably never had that experience in its full wholesomeness, like, ever again. They say that it takes more than one person to change things, but one person changed that literally overnight.

ORTEGA: Keep in mind, Colorado Springs is a pretty conservative city. So Club Q was an important place for LGBTQ people. It was one of the few places here where people who were still closeted to their own families would go to Club Q and feel free and safe in their skin. So this has really shaken this community hard.

SUMMERS: Colorado Public Radio's May Ortega, thank you.

ORTEGA: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

May is a Texas native who came to New Mexico to begin her professional career as a journalist in early 2017. She previously worked as a technology and healthcare reporter with Albuquerque Business First and has held various internships with newspapers around the country.May joined KUNM's Public Health New Mexico team in early 2018. While print news has been her livelihood since her college days, she sees radio as a more intimate way to provide a platform for underrepresented voices.