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Colorado shooting: US Army veteran says he went into ‘combat mode’ to disarm the gunman

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – Mr Richard M. Fierro said he 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. His instincts from four combat deployments as an Army officer in Iraq and Afghanistan instantly kicked in. Fight back, he told himself.

In an interview at his house, where his wife and daughter were still recovering from injuries, Mr Fierro, 45, who left the Army in 2013 as a major, 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. “I just know I have to kill this guy before he kills us.”

The authorities are holding Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, on charges of killing five people, and say 18 more people were injured in a rampage at the club that lasted only a few minutes. The death toll could have been much higher, officials said Sunday, if patrons of the bar had not stopped the gunman.

Mr Fierro’s description of what happened in those moments in Club Q closely matches accounts given by police and city officials and by the club’s owners, who have reviewed security footage from the massacre. When they were shown a picture of Mr Fierro on Monday, one club owner, Mr Nic Grzecka, said he looked like the man who took down the gunman.

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“I don’t even know his name,” Mr Grzecka said. “I would really like to meet him.”

‘I had to take him down’

When the shooting started, Mr Fierro said, he hit the floor, pulling a friend down with him.

As bullets sprayed, he saw the gunman move through the bar toward a door leading to a patio where dozens of bar patrons had fled.

Mr Fierro, who served in the Army for 15 years, said he raced across the room, grabbed the gunman by a handle on the back of his body armour, 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.”

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