Colorado Springs community, families honor the lives of the Club Q victims one year later
By Gabriela Vidal
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (KCNC) -- In the parking lot just outside of Club Q in Colorado Springs, hundreds of people gathered one year after a heartbreaking day that forever changed the community. "Never did we ever think something like this could happen to our family," said Stephanie Clark.
Clark is Ashley Paugh's sister, one of the five people who were murdered by a mass shooting at the LGBTQ+ bar on Nov. 19, 2022. "Being here at the one year still just doesn't seem real at all," said Clark.
She and the other families of the victims who died attended Sunday's remembrance ceremony, supported by people in the Colorado Springs community, city and state leaders, as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies. "Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh, Kelly Loving, and Raymond Green Vance," said Michael Anderson, one of the survivors of the shooting. "We honor them today and every day. We remember them today and every day. We ache today because they should be here. We anger because this never should have happened. And we protest for change in a country that so desperately needs it."
"One year since evil intentionally took lives, tore apart families and shook our community, especially the LGBTQ+ community," said Colorado Springs Mayor Yemi Mobolade. Speakers during the ceremony included the founding owner of Club Q, Mobolade, former Mayor John Suthers, Sen. John Hickenlooper and Gov. Jared Polis. Daniel Aston's mother and father also spoke to the crowd of people in attendance. Jeff Aston shared a poem honoring his late son. "What can I do, now that you're gone, now that you've moved to that great beyond. My bicycle wheel has lost its spokes. No one is around to laugh at my dad jokes," said Jeff.
For Clark and her family, Paugh will always be remembered as a loving sister and aunt who had a passion for helping foster children, and loved the outdoors.
"She loved her family more than anything," said Clark.
"She was really loving, supportive and just fun to be around," said Brayson Hochevar, Ashley Paugh's nephew. "I just really miss her and wish I had more time with her." It's more time these families can never get back, but along with the rest of the community, they are using the time they have to make the Colorado Springs community a safe space for all. "We must do better. We will do better," said Mobolade. "We will address mental health, and we will work together towards acceptance, inclusion, and creating a city where everyone feels safe and accepted, and welcomed."
One of those attending the ceremony in support of the LGBTQ+ community says Colorado Springs still has a long way to go to becoming a more inclusive and welcoming place. "I'm here to show some respect to the family, and hope that there is a big enough outcry that we have to keep these queer spaces protected," said Cheerish Martin. The ceremony concluded with an opportunity for loved ones to set down flowers against the memorial site that has been in place in front of Club Q over the last year. However, a more permanent display is now in the works. "On Friday we got approval, from our planning department, to actually finally start construction on our tribute, and that's going to be five pillars around that flagpole there. and then 17 boulders in a nice area to be able to reflect," said Matthew Haynes, founding owner of Club Q. "To make sure that this is never forgotten." Haynes hopes the permanent memorial will be completed in the next three months. "I will never forget what happened here. And I implore you not to either," said Anderson.
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