One year ago, five people were killed in a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub that left a small Colorado community grieving: Daniel Davis Aston, Kelly Loving, Derrick Rump, Raymond Green Vance, Ashley Paugh.
More than a dozen others were also injured in the shooting.
ABC News went to Colorado Springs earlier this year to speak with survivors about their recovery, resilience and stories about the ones they lost in the tragedy.
Friends, family, and community members described Aston’s wit, Loving’s fighting spirit, Rump’s humor, Vance’s soft nature, and Paugh’s charisma.
Daniel Davis Aston, 28
Daniel, a bartender at Club Q, was someone people could open up to, according to his close friends and partner.
“He just had these ways of creeping under your skin and making you feel safe and at home,” said his partner and Club Q shooting survivor, Wyatt Kent.
Daniel was hailed as a star writer, who wrote poems and letters that now leave his loved ones in tears.
“I wish my hands can speak so they could say what it is that lights my every fiber on fire when I touch your face,” Kent said, reciting one of Daniel’s poems. Kent found the poem wrapped in bubble and plastic wrap on the windshield of his car while he was at work.
“He had the ability to appreciate the tiniest of things,” said Kent. “He was too good.”
Daniel lived across the way from Hysteria Brooks, a drag queen who also worked at Club Q. Brooks was all smiles and laughter when reminiscing on their friendship.
“Daniel would always come over with a six pack of beers and he would just sit there and drink and I would drink wine and we would just talk for hours on end,” Brooks said.
Daniel, a transgender man, acted as a resource for the LGBTQ community in the Springs by directing people to the right resources, raising money for trans people in need, and answering questions about trans-affirming care.
“That man wanted a sense of community so bad that he was willing to build it from the ground up himself if he needed to,” said Brooks.
They continued, “I can’t say enough good things about him. He was what I consider to be one of the most queer people, like he loved anything queer, queer art, queer people, he just he lived for it all.”
Derrick Rump, 38
Derrick, as a bartender at Club Q, was there for many pivotal moments for LGBTQ residents in the Springs.
Derrick was the first person John Arcediano met when he moved there from New York, a welcoming face in a new city eager to hear his stories.
“Derrick and [Daniel’s] presence really created that sense of community there,” said Arcediano.
Derrick was also the bartender for Svetlana Haim’s first ever date with a woman. She smiles as she tells the story, which marked the beginnings of a close friendship.
“I remember, I’d gotten a little tipsy because I was nervous … I’d gone up to him, and I went, ‘you see that girl? I’m on a date. Do you think she likes me?’ He goes, ‘I don’t know, you got to ask her!'”
He was described as both sassy and sweet — who loved drama but was a “protector” of his friends, according to Brooks.
Ashtin Gamblin, one of his close friends, joked that she and Derrick were running themselves poor with the amount of things they did together.
“Derrick was the only person that I had out here when my husband deployed,” said Gamblin, whose husband was deployed in the U.S. military overseas. “He was my partner in crime.”
Raymond Green Vance, 22
Raymond’s family still expects him to walk into the room at any moment, popping up out of the blue as he used to do.
“He just comes home and he was just full of life and happiness,” said Estella Bell.
Raymond was a gentle giant — a tall, soft-spoken man full of life and dreams, his mother and grandparents told ABC News. He had a long-term girlfriend and had recently started a new job that he enjoyed.
“He was such a big man, but a big heart, kind heart,” said Adriana Vance, his mother. “Very popular in school, lots of friends. He was a great big brother.”
His little brother Marcus used to climb on Vance and “beat up on him” and Raymond would “just act like he wasn’t even doing anything to him,” said Adriana.
But that soft-spoken nature went away when he was playing video games, they remember fondly: “He was a battalion commander, shouting orders,” said his grandfather, Ron Bell.
Raymond had a thirst for travel — often traveling with his grandparents and immersing himself in the activities they did together.
“Life was just beautiful to him,” said his grandmother.
They continued to learn more about Raymond after he passed, hearing new stories about friends they had never met.
“The stories we heard about how he had affected other people were just — we couldn’t really wrap our head around it,” said Ron Bell. “I met so many people that were his friends. And so in a way he kind of left his own legacy.”
Kelly Loving, 40
Kelly had marked new chapters in her life just before the tragedy, according to her loved ones. She had just turned 40 and had recently moved to Colorado.
As a transgender woman, she was excited to get involved with the LGBTQ community in the Springs, according to her friend Natalee Skye Bingham.
Natalee says Kelly “taught me a lot about my whole transition and is someone I look up to in the community, it’s really hitting home, it’s hurting more and more.”
Kelly’s sister, Tiffany Loving, remembered her as “my compass, my best friend, my sister,” she said in her victim impact statement following the sentencing of the shooter who killed the five victims.
Kelly “loved herself and wanted others to unapologetically be themselves,” her sister said.
“Just like that my sister became a number of a violent statistic,” she said, pointing to the disproportionate rate of violence and victimization facing the transgender community around the world.
Ashley Paugh, 35
“Ashley was an amazing woman who always showed so much love and kindness toward people,” Ashley’s sister, Stephanie Clark, said in her victim impact statement following the sentencing of the shooter.
Ashley, who is survived by her husband and daughter, worked at a nonprofit called Kids Crossing that helps find homes for foster children, her husband told The Denver Post.
The non-profit honored and commended her work following her tragic death.
“Ashley served our Kids Crossing families with so much love and kindness,” said Kids Crossing in an online post. “She was always someone our families trusted and wanted to talk to. Her love for kids never went unnoticed and she would go above and beyond to make sure every child felt safe and loved. Our love and prayers are with her family.”
Her nephew told ABC News in a past interview that Ashley “was a very caring, compassionate woman; she loved her job, it was a passion.”
“She put her all into being a mother, wife, and a truly loving charismatic family member all around the board,” he said. “She loved the outdoors growing up hunting and fishing… she had just harvested a nice whitetail deer a week and half before this horrific incident.”
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