A 28-year-old transgender bartender and entertainer has been identified as one of the five victims killed in the Colorado Springs shooting at Club Q.
Daniel Aston, according to his mother Sabrina, gravitated toward the nightclub where the shooting unfolded late Saturday because “he liked helping the LGBT community.”
“We are in shock, we cried for a little bit, but then you go through this phase where you are just kind of numb, and I’m sure it will hit us again,” Aston told the Associated Press alongside her husband Jeff at their Colorado Springs home following Daniel’s death.
“I keep thinking it’s a mistake, they made a mistake, and that he is really alive,” she added.
Sabrina Aston said her son’s eagerness to make people laugh and cheer started as a child in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he would don elaborate costumes such as the beast from “Beauty and the Beast.” He would also cycle through weird hats and write plays acted out by neighborhood kids, she said.
Aston preferred dressing as a boy at a young age until teasing from other kids pushed him to try girls clothing. While Sabrina Aston enjoyed helping style her son, she said the fashion led to weight loss.
“He was miserable,” she said.
After coming out to his mother, he attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and became president of its LGBTQ club. Aston, the self-proclaimed “Master of Silly Business,” put on fundraisers with flashy productions.
Two years ago, Aston moved from Tulsa to Colorado Springs — where his parents had settled — and started at Club Q as a bartender and entertainer. His parents would join in the cheers at his shows.
“(Daniel’s shows) are great. Everybody needs to go see him,” his mother said. “He lit up a room, always smiling, always happy and silly,” she said.
She first heard about the attack and that her son had been shot at 2 a.m. on Sunday when the phone rang. It was one of her son’s friends breaking the news that a shooting had occurred at Club Q and that their son was in Memorial Hospital.
Sabrina and Jeff Aston rushed to the hospital, where they were first asked to wait outside, then in a waiting room, and finally in a private room where a detective asked them questions as authorities worked to identify the bodies.
Sabrina Aston told the detective about her son’s tattoos, including one on his left arm of a heart pierced by an arrow and wrapped in a ribbon reading “Mom.”
The couple was sent home without any update and sat in a stupor, their minds cycling through hope, then the worst, then hope that it wasn’t the worst.
When a detective and a patient advocate knocked on their door later that morning, Sabrina Aston said she thought of the soldiers walking towards the homes of yet-unaware widows during wartime. She knew what had happened.
“It’s just a nightmare that you can’t wake up from,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.