A mourner lays flowers outside a club serving an LGBTQ...

A mourner lays flowers outside a club serving an LGBTQ clientele in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Sunday after a mass shooting the night before killed five, police said. Credit: AP / Geneva Heffernan

Long Island officials expressed horror Sunday over the mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado that left five dead and said they are beefing up security around similar establishments, as a spokesman for the local LGBTQ community warned "we are not immune" to such threats.

In a statement, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said they spoke with David Kilmnick, the president and CEO of the LGBT Network, about security concerns following the attack on Club Q in Colorado Springs.

“On behalf of Nassau County residents, our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims and their families affected by this senseless attack,” Blakeman and Ryder said. “... The Nassau County Police Department continues to intensify their patrols around all areas of concern.”

Colorado Springs police said a gunman opened fire inside the nightclub shortly before midnight Saturday. The suspect was subdued by patrons, according to police. Twenty-five people were wounded in the shooting. At least seven are in critical condition.

The attack follows another on a gay nightclub on June 12, 2016, when Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old man, killed 49 people and wounded 53 more in a mass shooting at the club Pulse in Orlando, Fla.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, also in a statement, described the Colorado shooting as "horrific" and said:  "As we stand with the LGBTQ+ community and mourn those who were lost, we must all redouble our efforts to combat hate and reduce gun violence.”

The suspect in the Colorado shooting, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, opened fire as he entered the bar, Colorado Springs police said at a news conference on Sunday. Aldrich was hospitalized with injuries sustained during the incident. Police have not released a motive for the shooting.

Kilmnick said he worries about the group’s community centers in Bay Shore, Hauppauge and Sag Harbor becoming targets of violence. “We need to pass laws that protect LGBTQ people from these anti-gay folks,” Kilmnick said Sunday. “It happened in Colorado, but it certainly could happen here.”

In a later statement, Kilmnick said: "Senseless hate violence and the anti-LGBT rhetoric that is spreading, leads to these attacks and it must stop. We know hate leads to violence and we are not immune to this threat on Long Island and Queens."

Kilmnick himself was the victim of years of threats from a Bayport man sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for his actions.

Robert Fehring, 74, sent 60 menacing letters to Long Island LGBTQ leaders and allies between 2013 and 2021. Prosecutors said Fehring threatened in a June 2021 letter to use a high-powered rifle if Kilmnick showed up at the Long Island Pride Festival in Nassau County.

Chris Manuel, an owner of an LGBTQ establishment in Farmingdale, NuBar, said he and his business partner held an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss additional safety measures following the shooting.

Manuel said he did not feel comfortable publicly disclosing the steps the business will take, but he said more will be done to keep the bar’s patrons, employees and performers safe.

The LGBTQ community has always banded together to stand up against “hatred and contempt,” he said.

“We are saddened by what has happened but by no means will we be silenced by it,” Manuel told Newsday in an email. “To see us as anything other than human beings who deserve the same rights and protections as any other human being is unacceptable.”

Nassau and Suffolk police said there are no current credible threats to LGBTQ businesses in the counties, but they will continue to monitor along with law-enforcement partners.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Sunday that the state police are increasing surveillance and protection for communities at risk of hate crimes, including the LGBTQ and Jewish communities. Christopher Brown, 21, of Aquebogue and Matthew Mahrer, 22, of Manhattan, were arrested at Penn Station late Friday and charged in connection with a threat to the city’s Jewish community. 

“I have directed the New York State Police to ramp up monitoring and increase support for communities that are potential targets of hate crimes,” Hochul said in a statement. "Here in New York, we will not tolerate violence or bigotry toward any community. We stand united against hate — today and every day.”

With AP

   WHAT TO KNOW

  • State Police and law-enforcement agencies in Nassau and Suffolk beefing up security at LGBTQ businesses and facilities on Long Island after mass shooting at Colorado Springs nightclub leaves at least five dead.
  • LGBTQ leader calls on legislators to pass laws to protect community from "anti-gay folks." 
  • Colorado attack is sixth mass killing this month, comes in a year marked by mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. It comes after a 2016 shooting attack on the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Fla.


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