DENVER, Colo (KMGH) — One of two men hailed by police as a hero for stopping the Club Q shooter said he knew he had to act.
Richard Fierro and another man, identified by the Colorado Springs mayor as Thomas James, subdued the 22-year-old suspect before anyone else was killed or injured.
Fierro, a former Army major and an Iraq war veteran, was celebrating a birthday with his wife, daughter and his daughter’s boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, when the suspect entered the club and started shooting.
“I don't know what the hell he was shooting at. I smelled the cordite (ammunition explosive). I saw the flash. I dove, pushed my buddy down. I fell back behind [bar seating],” Fierro explained.
Moments later, he said there was a lull in the shooting. That's when he noticed the suspect was making his way toward the patio, where his wife and others had escaped.
“I grabbed [the shooter] by the back of his little cheap ass armor thing and pulled him down,” Fierro said.
He said the suspect, while subdued, was going for his pistol. At that point, another man, presumably James, jumped in to help.
“I grabbed the pistol from him. and then I told the guy, ‘Move the AR!’ The kid in front of me, because he was at his head, I said, ‘Move the AR. Get the AR away from him.’ And the kid did it,” Fierro said. “Then I started whaling on this dude. And I'm on top of him. I'm a big dude, man. This guy was bigger. And I just kept whaling on him. And I told the kid in front of me, ‘Kick him in his head! Keep kicking him in his head!’”
Fierro said his daughter's boyfriend, Raymond Green Vance, was one of the five people killed in the shooting.
"Raymond was part of our family since my daughter was in high school. I went to his football games. I sat with his mom. I sat with his little brother. They are great people," he said.
Fierro said he's reluctant to wear the "hero" label despite likely saving countless lives.
"I'm not a hero. I'm just some dude," he said. "Everybody find their heroes this Thanksgiving at the dinner table. You know, mom and dad or aunt and uncle or whoever you want."
He praised a Club Q patron, Joshua Thurman, for saving his daughter's life.
"The guy Joshua, who was dancing with my daughter and my wife and Joanne, he grabbed my daughter, and they went and hid. He saved my daughter's life, man. I couldn't ask for anything more," Fierro said.
Thurman said he didn't initially know someone was shooting.
“I thought it was the music, so I kept dancing. Then I heard another set of shots and then me and a customer ran to the dressing room, got on the ground and locked the doors, and called the police immediately,” Thurman said.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said he had the chance to talk with Fierro earlier in the day.
“I have never encountered a person who engaged in such heroic actions that was so humble about it,” Suthers said. “He simply said to me, ‘I was trying to protect my family.’”
This story was originally reported by Robert Garrison on denver7.com.