Two days after the fatal mass shooting at an LGBTQ bar in Colorado Springs, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg heatedly denounced the ongoing political attacks on the LGBTQ community that he feels led to the physical ones.
“It was a place of belonging, it was a place of community. And it came under attack – at a time when the entire LGBTQ community is coming under attack,” Buttigieg, who is gay, told CBS News’ national correspondent Kris Van Cleave about the Saturday night shooting at Club Q that left five people dead and 17 injured.
“And if anybody claims to be surprised that political attacks on a community that doesn’t hurt anybody are sometimes followed by violent physical attacks on that same community, I just don’t think they’re being honest,” he added.
Authorities have identified the suspected shooter as Anderson Aldrich, who is in custody and faces five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury, according to El Paso County courts. His victims have been identified as Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump. At least 17 others were injured in the Saturday night shooting.
Asked if he believes the “political discourse that’s going on now is a contributing factor to this kind of violence,” Buttigieg made very clear that he feels the hate and the calculated political attacks that the LGBTQ community faces today absolutely had a hand in molding Aldrich’s mindset and informing his actions.
“You can’t target a group to be feared and to be hated – a group, by the way, that never did anything to you, but is politically convenient to attack – and then act surprised when a disturbed person or who knows goes out and follows that through with physical violence,” he said.
In a follow-up tweet to the interview late Monday, Buttigieg added: “If you’re a politician or media figure who sets up the LGBTQ community to be hated and feared – not because any of us ever harmed you but because you find it useful – then don’t you dare act surprised when this kind of violence follows. Don’t you dare act surprised.”
Watch the CBS News clip with Buttigieg in the video above.