Early reports indicate that the suspect entered the establishment, Club Q, wearing body armor, and began firing with an AR-15 style rifle, according to two law enforcement officials briefed on the shooting. One of the club’s owners, who reviewed surveillance video of the scene, said the gunman entered the nightclub with “tremendous firepower.”
Mayor John Suthers of Colorado Springs said that someone had acted quickly to grab a handgun from the gunman, then hit him with it, subduing him. When police burst in, the man was still on top of the gunman, pinning him down, Mr. Suthers told The New York Times.
COLORADO SPRINGS — Richard M. Fierro was at a table in Club Q with his wife, daughter and friends on Saturday, watching a drag show, when the sudden flash of gunfire ripped across the nightclub and instincts forged during four combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan instantly kicked in. Fight back, he told himself, protect your people.
In an interview at his house on Monday, where his wife and daughter were still recovering from injuries, Mr. Fierro, 45, who spent 15 years as an Army officer and left as a major in 2013, according to military records, described charging through the chaos at the club, tackling the gunman and beating him bloody with the gunman’s own gun.
“I don’t know exactly what I did, I just went into combat mode,” Mr. Fierro said, shaking his head as he stood in his driveway, an American flag hanging limp in the freezing air. “I just know I have to kill this guy before he kills us.”
But that night at Club Q, he was not thinking of war at all. The women were dancing. He was joking with his friends. Then the shooting started.
It was a staccato of flashes by the front door, the familiar sound of small-arms fire. Mr. Fierro knew it too well. Without thinking, he hit the floor, pulling his friend down him. Bullets sprayed across the bar, smashing bottles and glasses. People screamed. Mr. Fierro looked up and saw a figure as big as a bear, easily more than 300 pounds, wearing body armor and carrying a rifle a lot like the one he had carried in Iraq. The shooter was moving through the bar toward a door leading to a patio where dozens of people had fled.
The long-suppressed instincts of a platoon leader shot back to life. He raced across the room, grabbed the gunman by a handle on the back of his body armor, pulled him to the floor and jumped on top of him.
“Was he shooting at the time? Was he about to shoot? I don’t know,” Mr. Fierro said. “I just knew I had to take him down.
The two crashed to the floor. The gunman’s military-style rifle clattered just out of reach. Mr. Fierro started to go for it, but then saw that the gunman come up with a pistol in his other hand.
“I grabbed the gun out of his hand and just started hitting him in the head, over and over,” Mr. Fierro said.
As he held the man down and slammed the pistol down on his skull, Mr. Fierro started barking orders. He yelled for another club patron, using a string of expletives, to grab the rifle then told the patron to start kicking the gunman in the face. A drag dancer was passing by, and Mr. Fierro said he ordered her to stomp the attacker with her high heels. The whole time, Mr. Fierro said, he kept pummeling the shooter with the pistol while screaming obscenities.
What allowed him to throw aside all fear and act? He said he has no idea. Probably those old instincts of war, that had burdened him for so long at home, suddenly had a place now that something like war had come to his hometown
“In combat, most of the time nothing happens, but it’s that mad minute, that mad minute, and you are tested in that minute. It becomes habit,” he said. “I don’t know how I got the weapon away from that guy, no idea. I’m just a dude, I’m a fat old vet, and but I knew I had to do something.”
When police arrived a few minutes later, the gunman was no longer struggling, Mr. Fierro said. Mr. Fierro said he feared that he had killed him.
Eventually, he was freed. He went to the hospital with his wife and daughter, who had only minor injuries. His friends were there, and are still there, in much more serious condition. They were all alive. But his daughter’s boyfriend was nowhere to be found. In the chaos they had lost him. They drove back to the club, searching for him, they circled familiar streets, hoping they would find him walking home. But there was nothing.
The family got a call late Sunday from his mother. He had died in the shooting.
When Mr. Fierro heard, he said, he held his daughter and cried.
In part he cried because he knew what lay ahead. The families of the dead, the people who were shot, had now been in war, like he had. They would struggle like he and so many of his combat buddies had. They would ache with misplaced vigilance, they would lash out in anger, never be able to scratch the itch of fear, be torn by the longing to forget and the urge to always remember.
“My little girl, she screamed and I was crying with her,” he said. “Driving home from the hospital I told them, ‘Look, I’ve gone through this before, and down range, when this happens, you just get out on the next patrol. You need to get it out of your mind.’ That is how you cured it. You cured it by doing more. Eventually you get home safe. But here I worry there is no next patrol. It is harder to cure. You are already home.”
展开讲几句。我对“英雄情结”比较反感，因为和平时期的平民一般只有在错误时间、错误地点和错误人物的场合下才有机会当英雄，这就违反了自卫中最重要的“避险”原则。一个理智、谨慎、警惕、有备的人，虽然是对付这种突发事件的最好人选，但他往往会避免、也应该避免他认为不安全的场合，这就大大减小了他遇到此类事件的概率，而此类事件发生的概率本来就非常非常小，基本是统计上的异常值。不管是这位退役陆军少校，还是 Eli Dicken，都是极少数人里的极少数，不能拿来当评价判断我们自己行为准则的标准，最多只能拿来给我们自己的自卫预案当参考。即使考虑到部分幸运的因素，绝大多数理智、谨慎、警惕、有备的人，一辈子都碰不到此类事件，他们才是自卫成功者。这是自卫原则中众多“似非而是”(paradoxical)的概念之一，“什么也没发生”才是自卫成功的真正标准。这个标准也是反直觉的，因为看不见摸不着，也不能被证明，因为要证明一个否定命题逻辑上不可能。