"We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people," U.S. President Joe Biden had said in a statement. "We cannot and must not tolerate hate."
He was speaking after a gunman opened fire inside a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing at least five people and injuring 18 others on Saturday night.
In a statement on Twitter Biden said: "We must address the public health epidemic of gun violence in all forms. I signed the most significant gun safety law in nearly three decades, but we must do more."
The police said "heroic"clubgoers fought and stopped a gunman shortly after he opened fire.
Police identified the suspect as Anderson Lee Aldrich, a 22-year-old man, who shot at patrons with a long rifle, a powerful weapon that can inflict devastating wounds. He was taken into police custody shortly after the shooting began and was being treated for injuries, according to officials.
Club Q, which describes itself as an adult-oriented gay and lesbian nightclub, called Saturday night's events a "hate attack" in a statement on its Facebook page. Authorities said they were investigating whether the attack was motivated by hate.
Two firearms were found at Club Q, Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Adrian Vasquez said in a news conference on Sunday.
"Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens," he said. "I'm so terribly saddened and heartbroken."
Joshua Thurman choked up as he told reporters on Sunday that he was dancing in the club when he first heard the gunshots.
He sought refuge in a dressing room and locked himself inside with other people, praying for his life and thinking about his loved ones.
"It's supposed to be our safe place. A community shouldn't have to go through something like this for us to come together," Thurman told local media, adding that one of his friends was killed in the shooting.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who in 2018 became the first openly gay man in the country to be elected as a governor, commended the "brave individuals who blocked the gunman" in a statement released on Twitter in which he called the shooting "horrific, sickening, and devastating."
Several of the injured were in critical condition and being treated at local hospitals, authorities said.
Police said the initial phone call about the shooting came in just before midnight, and that the suspect was apprehended within minutes.
Jill and I are praying for the families of the five people killed in Colorado Springs, and for those injured in this senseless attack.
While no motive in this attack is yet clear, we know that gun violence has a particular impact on LGBTQI+ communities across our nation.
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 20, 2022