U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas James has spoken publicly for the first time since he and other club patrons stopped a mass shooter at a Colorado Springs, Colorado, LGBTQ nightclub on Nov. 19.
James, a Navy information systems technician stationed in Colorado Springs, stripped away a rifle from the shooter and repeatedly kicked him in the head, according to statements from retired U.S. Army Major Rich Fierro, who dragged down and beat the shooter until Colorado Springs Police arrived.
James suffered an undisclosed injury. In his first statement to the media, released Sunday by Centura Health, James said he "simply wanted to save the family he found."
"If I had my way, I would shield everyone from the nonsensical acts of hate in the world, but I am only one person," James wrote. "Thankfully, we are family, and family looks after one another. We came a long way from Stonewall. Bullies aren't invincible."
James expressed support for those recovering and sorrow for the five Club Q patrons killed - Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump and Ashley Paugh - and 17 injured.
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"I want to support everyone who has known the pain and loss that have been all too common these past few years. My thoughts are with those we lost on Nov. 19 and those who are still recovering from their injuries," James wrote. "To the youth, I say be brave. Your family is out there. You are loved and valued. So when you come out of the closet, come out swinging."
James is not conducting interviews and remains focused on recovery, according to Centura Health. A statement by the Navy last week asked that James' privacy be respected as he recovers.
Both James and Fierro were hailed as heroes in a Nov. 21 press conference by Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers for their actions. Fierro stated a third yet-to-be-identified bar patron was also involved in stopping the shooter.
COLORADO NIGHTCLUB MASSACRE: Suspect faces 5 counts of murder, hate crimes
The shooting suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, was in court Wednesday, appearing barely cognizant and sitting in a wheelchair. Aldrich faces five counts of murder and five counts of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury.
A booking photo of Aldrich released by the Colorado Springs Police Department showed his face badly swollen and covered in bruises and abrasion marks. A new court date has been set for Dec. 6.
This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Navy petty officer speaks out after stopping Colorado Springs shooter