Owner of gay club: Shooting comes amid a new ‘type of hate’

Nov 24, 2022, 1:08 PM | Updated: Nov 25, 2022, 4:11 pm
Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting ...

Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The co-owner of the Colorado Springs gay nightclub where a shooter turned a drag queen’s birthday celebration into a massacre said he thinks the shooting that killed five people and injured 17 others is a reflection of anti-LGBTQ sentiment that has evolved from prejudice to incitement.

Nic Grzecka’s voice was tinged with exhaustion as he spoke with The Associated Press on Wednesday night in some of his first comments since Saturday night’s attack at Club Q, a venue Grzecka helped build into an enclave that sustained the LGBTQ community in conservative-leaning Colorado Springs.

Authorities haven’t said why the suspect opened fire at the club before being subdued by patrons, but they are facing hate crime charges. The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, has not entered a plea or spoken about the incident.

Grzecka said he believes the targeting of a drag queen event is connected to the art form being cast in a false light in recent months by right-wing activists and politicians who complain about the “sexualization” or “grooming” of children.

Even though general acceptance of the LGBTQ community has grown, this new dynamic has fostered a dangerous climate, he said.

“It’s different to walk down the street holding my boyfriend’s hand and getting spit at (as opposed to) a politician relating a drag queen to a groomer of their children,” Grzecka said. “I would rather be spit on in the street than the hate get as bad as where we are today.”

Earlier this year, Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature passed a bill barring teachers from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation with younger students. A month later, references to “pedophiles” and “grooming” in relation to LGBTQ people rose 400%, according to a Human Rights Campaign report.

“Lying about our community, and making them into something they are not, creates a different type of hate,” Grzecka said.

Grzecka, who started mopping floors and bartending at Club Q in 2003 a year after it opened, said he hopes to channel his grief and anger into rebuilding the support system for Colorado Springs’ LGBTQ community that only Club Q had provided.

City and state officials have offered support and President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden reached out to Grzecka and co-owner Matthew Haynes on Thursday to offer condolences and reiterate their support for the community, as well as their commitment to fighting back against hate and gun violence.

Club Q opened after the only other gay bar in Colorado Springs at that time shuttered, Grzecka said, describing that era as an evolution of gay bars.

Decades ago, dingy, hole-in-the-wall venues were meant largely for finding a hookup or date. But once the internet offered anonymous ways to find love online, the bars transitioned into well-lit, clean, non-smoking spaces to hang out with friends and Club Q was at the vanguard of that transition, Grzecka said.

Once he became co-owner in 2014, Grzecka helped mold Club Q into not merely a nightlife venue but a community center — a platform to create a “chosen family” for LGBTQ people, especially for those estranged from their birth family. Drag queen bingo nights, “Friendsgiving” and Christmas dinners and birthday celebrations became staples of Club Q which was open 365 days a year.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Grzecka and other community leaders hope to fill the gaping hole left by the desecration of Club Q.

“When that system goes away, you realize how much more the bar was really providing,” said Justin Burns, an organizer with Pikes Peak Pride. “Those that may or may not have been a part of the Club Q family, where do they go?”

Burns said the shooting pulled back a curtain on a broader lack of resources for LGBTQ adults in Colorado Springs. Burns, Grzecka and others are working with national organizations to do an assessment of the community’s needs as they develop a blueprint to offer a robust support network.

Grzecka is looking to rebuild the “loving culture” and necessary support to “make sure that this tragedy is turned into the best thing it can be for the city.”

That started on Thursday night, when Club Q’s 10th anniversary Friendsgiving was held at the non-denominational Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church. Survivors, community members, friends and family shared donated meals under strings of lights near rainbow balloon towers.

Organized by the LGBTQ group United Court of Pikes Peak Empire, the dinner’s bright atmosphere felt resilient. People smiled, squeezed each other in hugs and told stories from the podium about those who lost their lives.

“Everybody needs community,” Grzecka said.

Earlier that day at the memorial, a trickle of people walked slowly along the wall of flowers and vigil candles that had burnt out.

“I hope you dance,” someone wrote to victim Ashley Paugh on one of five white crosses fixed with wooden hearts inscribed with the names of those who had died and bearing notes scribbled by mourners.

On a concrete barrier a message was scrawled, “Please hear our calls. Protect us, our home.”

___

Jesse Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Hand-written messages cover the heart attached to the cross to honor a victim of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              A sign stands at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The alleged shooter facing possible hate crime charges in the fatal shooting of five people at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub is scheduled to make their first court appearance Wednesday from jail after being released from the hospital a day earlier.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Nic Grzecka, right, co-owner of Club Q, is consoled by a supporter of the gay bar after a 25-foot historic pride flag was displayed on the exterior of city hall to mark the weekend mass shooting Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. The flag, known as Section 93 of the Sea to Sea Flag, is on laan for two weeks to Colorado Springs from the Sacred Cloth Project. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Nic Grzecka, right, co-owner of Club Q, hugs a supporter after a 25-foot historic pride flag was unfurled to cover the exterior of City Hall to mark the weekend mass shooting at the gay nightclub Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. The flag, known as Section 93 of the Sea to Sea Flag, is on loan for two weeks to Colorado Springs from the Sacred Cloth Project. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            Co-owners of Club Q, Matthew Haynes, front, and Nic Grzecka, address the crowd after a 25-foot historic pride flag was displayed on the exterior of City Hall to mark the weekend mass shooting at the gay nightclub Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. The flag, known as Section 93 of the Sea to Sea Flag, is on loan for two weeks to Colorado Springs from the Sacred Cloth Project. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) Amy Kingsley of Salida, Colo., checks on her dog, Avalon, after they watched as a 25-foot historic pride flag was unfurled from the roof of City Hall to honor the victim's of the weekend mass shooting at a gay nightclub Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. The flag, known as Section 93 of the Sea to Sea Flag, is on loan for two weeks to Colorado Springs from the Sacred Cloth Project. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) A television cameraman works near a tribute to the victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub painted on the side of a downtown commercial buiding Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) Photographs of the victims of a mass shooting a gay nightclub look over a table set with free flowers at a makeshift memorial for the victims of a mass shooting over the weekend at a gay nightclub Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) Supporters of Club Q stand beneath a 25-foot historic pride flag displayed on the exterior of city hall to mark the weekend mass shooting at a gay nightclub Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) A supporter of Club Q wears a baseball cap after a 25-foot historic pride flag was displayed on the exterior of city hall to mark the weekend mass shooting at a gay nightclub Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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PARIS (AP) — French energy giant TotalEnergies said Friday that it will walk away from its stake in Russian natural gas producer Novatek and take a $3.7 billion loss. TotalEnergies, which has come under criticism for pursuing some of its projects in Russia amid the war in Ukraine, said Western sanctions prevent it from selling […]
9 hours ago
FILE- Vladimir Plahotniuc, the leader of the Democratic Party, leaves after a press statement in Ch...
Associated Press

UK sanctions 2 Moldovan oligarchs charged with corruption

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Two Moldovan oligarchs who are allegedly implicated in a one-billion-dollar bank fraud and other illicit schemes have been added to a new U.K. sanctions list, Britain’s foreign secretary said Friday. The two men, Ilan Shor, and Vladimir Plahotniuc, fled Moldova in 2019 as they faced a series of corruption charges. They […]
9 hours ago

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