Barrett Hudson, 31, was enjoying a night out with a friend when he suddenly became one of the victims in the Colorado Springs mass shooting which took place at LGBT nightclub, Club Q, on November 19. The fatal shooting left five people dead and dozens more injured. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Barrett, who “thought [he] was dead” after being shot seven times by an armed gunman holding an AR-15.
HL: Can you please explain exactly what happened that night at the club?
Barrett: “I just moved to Colorado about a month and a half ago. I went with one other person and we had never been there before so we just wanted to check it out. And we were going there to watch a drag show. We’d only been there probably about 30, 45 minutes. And I mean, we were 30, 45 seconds away from leaving. If we had left when we would have left then we would have either been at the bar closing out our tab or we would have been walking through the entrance so who knows what would have happened.
“I saw him murder somebody cold blooded right in front of my eyes. I swear to God he paused a second or two before he shot this dude. So I’m going to tell you, when you hear gunshots, and I’ve never heard gunshots that close but besides that one time, it sounds like balloons popping because the echo is loud and the music is still playing over. So it’s not like it’s loud, loud because it could be in the music. But when he opened fire, we heard about nine or 10 pops. I look to my right and I see the door shut, and I see him standing there with an AR-15. Because I have an AR-15 I know what they look like.
“When he opened the door, he was just right on this group of people. They couldn’t have been in a worse spot. They were like sitting ducks. One dude put his hands up and walked two steps back. And the dude just shot him in the head, or maybe it was the chest. That’s when everyone in the club took off running. It was dim in the club but you could see and hear the gunshots.”
HL: How did you manage to escape?
Barrett: “I took off running through the back door and I’m getting shot left and right. One time in my left elbow and one time in my right elbow, then five times in the back. It all happened so fast. I was just fighting for my life. I didn’t have a choice but to keep going. I kept getting shot the whole time I was running. I fell down and I would get back up. I made it outside and I immediately looked right. I don’t even think I looked left because there were double doors and the left door was still swinging open. So I just went right so he wouldn’t have as much shooting range.
“I saw about a 10- or 12-foot fence so I ran and I climbed the fence. I threw myself over it. I ran about another 30 yards and I hopped down on the ledge which was probably a 15-foot ledge. Then I ran over to a CVS and I was screaming for help. That was kind of when I had my come to Jesus moment. I was laying on the sidewalk at 7-Eleven and people were helping me. They called 911 but the ambulances took forever.
“The people helping me started counting all the bullet holes. They told me how many times I had been shot and I was bleeding so bad. While I was laying there I saw numerous police and ambulance drive by helping other victims. During that time while I was waiting for an ambulance laying on the ground, I called my dad and told him how much I loved him because I thought I was dead since we couldn’t get an ambulance out there.
“At some point we were actually going to put me in somebody’s car. But then the police came, then the fire, but we still couldn’t get an ambulance. They were like, ‘Well, let’s just put him in the fire truck but then finally they got an ambulance. I feel like I would have had an even better shot of living if I had just gone in someone’s car just because of how long the ambulance took.”
HL: Have you connected with any of the other survivors since the attack? If so, what was that like?
Barrett: “No unfortunately, I haven’t yet. I’ve been in the hospital up until a few days ago and just focusing on recovering at this point. Plus, you’ve got to remember I’ve only been in Colorado a few weeks, right? I just moved there. I didn’t know anybody. I’m actually back in North Carolina now where all my family is at so they can help take care of me.”
HL: How are you feeling today?
Barrett: “They cleared me to leave the hospital after 72 hours. I flew back to North Carolina where I’m from since then and thankfully I’m able to walk and talk. Sitting still hurts but I found out that one of the bullets missed my spine by a hair, and all the other bullets missed my major organs.”
HL: Did you ever imagine something like this would happen to you?
Barrett: “Absolutely not. But what I did do when I walked in the club, I actually scoped out my exits. I looked around and I paid attention. And in my head, I said, ‘God forbid a gunman comes in. Where do I run?’ And I saw the back doors. I actually do that in every gay bar that I go to. I kind of look around at the exit, just because of all the shootings.”
HL: How has this affected your life? Do you fear going out again? Could you ever go to a club again?
Barrett: “Hell no, I could never do a club again. I’m more of a bar guy in general but still… even if I had a weapon, things happen so fast that I don’t know what good it would have done. When I saw him shoot that guy, I took off running before his body dropped. As soon as I saw that fire come out of the gun, I took off running and I knew this wasn’t a joke. This is real life, but it still feels like I’m going to wake up.”
HL: What do you think needs to be done to prevent this from happening again? Are gay bars safe places still?
Barrett: “Not in 2022. Gay bars are the most dangerous places you can go because we’re targeted more. If you want to shoot something up and you hate people, it’s usually where you go. Or like the movie theaters or churches. I mean, it’s been awful. And if I thought to change anything, we need security and like, spend some money. I get it’s going to cost more, but we need off-duty cops. We need people that can carry guns. Because if security was there, this would have been a whole different story. They probably wouldn’t have gone into that bar.”
HL: What kind of justice do you hope alleged gunman Anderson Lee Aldrich receives?
Barrett: “I hope he receives life in prison without parole because death is too easy. When you do something like that you’re fully prepared to die. The guy that took him down, I believe in the shooters mind, he’s like, ‘Oh, f**k, now I’m going to have to do all this time.’ So life without parole would be a better punishment for him.”
HL: Being a gun owner yourself, what are your views on gun control after this attack? Do you think that better gun control would have changed the outcome?
Barrett: “It’s too easy to get a gun. It’s hard to get a pistol. I have an AR-15 and several other guns. It’s easier to get because an AR-15 is considered like a shotgun so it’s literally just go there and buy a shotgun. It’s one background check. You walk out in 10, 15 minutes. It’s way too easy and I think we definitely need better gun control because we’re the only country that’s dropping like flies on our own people.”
HL: What is your message to the LGBTQ+ community?
Barrett: “That’s a good question. Um, just know your exits. And just be safe. My message would be that it’s just not safe enough to go out right now.”