Mr. Fierro, the Army combat veteran who took down the gunman, was at Club Q with his wife, Jess; their daughter, Kassandra; Mr. Vance and family friends to watch one of Kassandra’s friends perform a drag act. It was Mr. Fierro’s first time at a drag show. He said he was having fun.
“These kids want to live that way, want to have a good time, have at it,” he said in the interview on Monday. “I’m happy about it because that is what I fought for, so they can do whatever the hell they want.”
The fight with the gunman left Mr. Fierro covered in blood, he said. When the police arrived, officers tackled him and put him in handcuffs. He said he was held in a police car for more than an hour and screamed and pleaded to be let go so that he could see what had happened to his family.
Mr. Fierro, who owns a local brewery, said that on combat deployments in the Army, he had been shot at and had seen roadside bombs shred trucks in his platoon. His record shows that he was awarded the Bronze Star twice. The experiences of combat still haunt him, he said, and the psychological and physical toll of the deployments were why he left the Army.
He said he never thought he would have to deal with that kind of violence at home.
“I was done with war,” he said.
Dave Philipps and Jack Healy reported from Colorado Springs, Shawn Hubler from Sacramento and Patricia Mazzei from Miami. Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Noel Black, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jill Cowan, Elizabeth Dias, Eliza Fawcett, Adam Goldman, Soumya Karlamangla, Eduardo Medina, Andrew Pantazi, Simon Romero, Mindy Sink, Mitch Smith, Chris Stanford, Glenn Thrush, Remy Tumin and Daniel Victor. Alain Delaquérière and Kirsten Noyes contributed research.