WASHINGTON — The Metropolitan Police Department has increased police presence around LGBTQ+ establishments across the city, according to a city spokesperson.
The decision to increase patrols comes one day after a gunman killed at least five people and injured 25 other people at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich entered the gay nightclub and began shooting until two patrons stopped him.
The latest mass shooting sparked outrage and concern about the safety of LGBTQ+ establishments across the country. In a statement, President Joe Biden said, “Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence.”
On the same day as the Colorado attack, the owner of a gay bar in New York City said a culprit has hurled huge rocks at the front window three times in just the last week. New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced police are stepping up surveillance for communities at risk of hate crimes.
D.C. officials said there are no known threats to any events or locations in the city but will continue to monitor developments in Colorado Springs. Anyone can report suspicious activity or potential threats to iwatchdc.org or by calling 202-727-9099.
“We’re targets and we always have been,” John Guggenmos of DC Nightlife Council (DCNC) told WUSA9. “Even in Washington, D.C. where we have all the council support, we have the mayor’s support, the police support, it only takes one idiot to actually change everyone’s life forever.”
Guggenmos is also the owner of the popular gay bars Trade and Number Nine near Logan Circle. He urges other business owners to review and update their safety plans moving ahead.
While there are no drastic changes to protocols at his locations, Guggenmos encourages businesses to talk to each other and constantly speak to employees.
“Does your staff know the emergency routes and even a meeting place?” he said. “Be flexible in what those plans are because the best laid plans that you have, you need backups for. It’s a chance for all of us to review each and one of those steps.”
Earlier this month, his council and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington hosted a security and active shooter training with 75 businesses.
The owner of Freddie’s in Arlington said he plans to conduct another route of mass shooter trainings with the help of the police department.
Freddie Lutz owned the business for almost 22 years with a second location in Rehoboth Beach. He is concerned about copycats but feels the support of Arlington Police, who called him the next day after the Colorado shooting to offer support.
“We got to stay positive through all of this crap,” Lutz said. “It just makes me sad because I get flashbacks to the Pulse nightclub shooting.”
The attack in Colorado has evoked similar emotions to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, where 49 people were killed and more than 50 hurt in 2016.
Mayor Muriel Bowser planned a vigil to honor the Colorado Springs on Monday at 6 p.m. at the DuPont Circle Fountain.