The victims of the shooting at the LGBTQ-friendly Club Q in Colorado Springs include two bartenders, the mother of an 11-year-old girl and two other clubgoers who were enjoying a carefree night before a lone gunman started firing indiscriminately.
The shooting left 19 other people injured and a community in mourning.
“Too often society loses track of the victims of these sad and tragic events in all the talk of the suspect,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said at a Monday afternoon news conference. “We strive to give the victims the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Daniel Aston, 28
Two years ago, Daniel Aston moved from his native Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Colorado Springs, where he started working at Club Q as a bartender and entertainer, his mom told The Associated Press.
“He lit up a room, always smiling, always happy and silly,” said his mom, Sabrina Aston, who lives in Colorado Springs.
She recalled how liberated he seemed as he slid across the club’s stage on his knees, delighting the crowd.
Sabrina Aston described the killing of her son, a transgender man, as a “nightmare that you can’t wake up from.”
“I keep thinking it’s just, it’s a mistake. They’ve made a mistake and that he’s really alive,” she told the AP.
She said she first heard about the attack early Sunday, when one of her son’s friends called to tell her that Aston was in the hospital. She rushed to Memorial Hospital to be with him, but she was told to wait at home for an update.
She learned later that morning that he had died.
Kelly Loving, 40
Kelly Loving’s sister, Tiffany Loving, told The New York Times that she learned of her sibling’s death from the FBI on Sunday.
“She was loving, always trying to help the next person out, instead of thinking of herself,” Tiffany Loving told The Times. “She just was a caring person. I was really close with her.”
Ashley Paugh, 35
Ashley Paugh was capping off a day trip in Colorado Springs with a night of fun at Club Q when the gunman opened fire, her sister said.
Stephanie Clark said Paugh was a loving mother and wife who was devoted to her family, including her 11-year-old daughter.
“My niece is devastated,” Clark said, adding that Paugh “lived for her daughter.”
In a phone interview Monday, Clark sobbed and described an intense swirl of emotions in the wake of her sister’s death.
“It just doesn’t seem real,” Clark said. “We’re heartbroken. We’re sad. We’re mad, angry.”
Paugh, who is not part of the LGBTQ community, spent Saturday in Colorado Springs with a female friend. The two friends got a bite to eat, went shopping and planned to end the night at Club Q, where they were expecting a comedian to perform, Clark said.
“Nothing will ever be the same without her,” Clark said. “Right now, I don’t want to laugh. She was a loving, caring person who would do anything for anybody. We’re gonna miss her so much.”
Friends said Rump was a bartender at Club Q who was endearingly sassy and brutally honest.
“Derrick always showed the tough love, but he did it because someone had to do it,” friend Alex Gallagher said.
Gallagher recalled that Rump teased him for the way he applied his makeup in the bathroom. They went back and forth on the subject until Rump blurted out: “You know I’m right.”
That ended the conversation.
Raymond Green Vance, 22
Raymond Green Vance’s relatives are “still trying to come to terms with the fact he is gone,” the family said in a statement to The New York Times. “His absence will leave irreparable heartbreak in countless lives.”
In a post on Facebook, Vance’s girlfriend paid tribute to him.
“My baby was the most hilarious most loving human. Let’s share that with each other. I need a smile,” Kassy Fierro wrote in the post.
Fierro’s father, decorated Army veteran Richard Fierro, was one of two people who tackled and subdued the gunman inside the nightclub, his wife said Monday.
Jessica Fierro said she was at Club Q with her husband, their daughter and friends to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
She said her two best friends were shot and her daughter broke her knee running for cover.
Daniel Arkin reported from New York; Deon J. Hampton reported from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Chantal Da Silva, Melissa Chan, Janelle Griffith and The Associated Press contributed.