(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Friends and family members of victims who were killed or injured during a shooting at Club Q Saturday night on Nov. 19 in Colorado Springs have come forward to share their stories.
Seth Stang, an Air Force Academy employee, woke up the morning after the tragic shooting like many others to a confusing text asking if he was alright.
“The first text actually was, are you okay? Which to me didn’t make any sense. I was like, what do you mean, of course, I am okay,” Stang told FOX21 News.
As the events of the night unfolded on social media, Stang was shocked to find out that a tragedy of this caliber that he’s only seen on the news was now something closer to home.
“I’ve seen these things happen before. I wasn’t surprised to see something horrible happen to our community, but… Oh my gosh, this is personal. That’s my hometown, a bar I’ve been to many times.”
His next thoughts were of the people he knew who worked at Club Q. Stang was at a local grocery store buying flowers to bring to the vigil when he learned which lives were taken Saturday night.
“There were a couple of folks that worked at the bar that I was worried about… And I found out that those two people that I was worried about had… passed,” Stang said pausing momentarily.
Trying to keep his composure, Stang continued, “I know I might look put together, but I’ve learned to be put together. It’s really, really overwhelming. It’s something that just gets inside of your chest and your stomach and makes you sick.”
Stang’s voice shook as he said, “And you have to constantly put on this face for everyone else and be strong and it’s hard. It’s really very hard.”
The magnitude of what victims and their families would now have to face moving forward remained a heavy thought throughout the rest of the interview.
“It’s sad for me, but people lost their family forever. There are people who are injured who could lose their jobs. Now, people we don’t know the status of the people that were hurt… People will have to live with the PTSD.”
“Civilians should not have to see combat-like situations,” Stand said of the mass shooting that was witnessed by many overnight. Stang said he wanted to tell his grieving community that it is okay to put down their masks and be vulnerable.
“People say, How are you doing today? And we say, fine,” Stang said. “Today, when… you’re around people and they say, how are you? It is okay to say bad. I’m not good. It’s alright to not be good and it is alright to be sad and find your friends.”
The City of Colorado Springs created a page on its website to provide mental health resources for victims and families in the wake of the overnight shooting. Stang encouraged his peers to seek help and guidance from the community that is readily available to support victims.
“You do not have to constantly tell people you’re okay when you’re not,” Stang explained.
Stang told FOX21 News that seeing individuals lay roses at the vigil and show compassion is beautiful. He recognized the importance of a community unified against the face of tragedy and sharing in the mourning.
“There’s some hope. Because if it was nothing but the angry voice, where are we then? We’re just completely in darkness,” he explained.
In a final thought, Stang wanted to console his community.
“I wanted to say to the families of those that were hurt and those that were lost that my heart is so broken for you. I cannot comprehend how you feel. I won’t pretend to comprehend how you feel, but that I love you and I’m so sorry,” he finished.