Police probe motive in US club shooting

Police in Colorado Springs are investigating the motive for a weekend shooting at an LGBTQI nightclub that killed five people and injured 25 others in what rights advocates suspect was a hate crime.

Police said patrons who rushed the gunman, halting the attack on Saturday night at Club Q, in Colorado's second-largest city, were heroes.

Authorities said on Sunday they were investigating whether the attack was motivated by hate.

Police identified the suspect as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich and said he used a long rifle.

They said multiple firearms were found at the scene.

Police said at least two people subdued the gunman shortly after he burst in just before midnight, preventing further carnage, but did not identify them nor say whether they were shot or injured.

One of the patrons grabbed a handgun from the shooter and pistol-whipped him with it and was still on top of the suspect, pinning him down, when police arrived, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told the New York Times.

"It was quite something. It happened quite quickly. This individual was totally disabled by 12:02. That had a lot to do with the intervention of these patrons," Suthers told the Times.

Suthers said the shooting "has all the appearances of being a hate crime".

United States President Joe Biden acknowledged no motive had been established but said in a statement LGBTQI people have been "subjected to horrific hate violence in recent years".

The shooting was reminiscent of the 2016 Pulse club massacre in which a gunman killed 49 people at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, before he was fatally shot by police.

Club Q, a long-standing venue in a modest mall, was described by many as a safe haven for the LGBTQI community.

One of the victims was identified as Daniel Aston, 28, a transgender man and bartender at the club who also performed in shows as a dancer, according to a Colorado Public Radio interview with his mother, Sabrina Aston.

"He was the happiest he had ever been," Sabrina Aston said.

"He was thriving and having fun and having friends. It's just unbelievable. He had so much more life to give to us and to all - to his friends and to himself."

Anxiety within many LGBTQI communities in the US has risen amid a divisive political climate and after a string of threats and violent incidents targeting LGBTQI people and events in recent months.

"America's toxic mix of bigotry and absurdly easy access to firearms means that such events are all too common," said Kevin Jennings, chief executive of Lambda Legal, a gay rights group.

Colorado has a grim history of mass violence, including the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, a 2012 rampage inside a movie theatre in a Denver suburb and a supermarket attack that killed 10 people last year.

Colorado Springs suffered a mass shooting in 2015 when an anti-abortion gunman killed three people and injured nine at a Planned Parenthood facility.