CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Navy officer and West Virginia native Thomas James was one of many who were injured in the Colorado Springs shooting that took place in a gay nightclub on Nov. 19, but he was also one of the men who helped put a stop to the shooter.
“I simply wanted to save the family I found. If I had my way, I would shield everyone I could from the nonsensical acts of hate in the world, but I am only one person,” James said in a statement during his stay at the Centura Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs.
“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, who is currently recovering from a gunshot wound, lived out his childhood in Beckley, West Virginia, where he would frequently stop at a local comic book store after school.
Owner of lost Legion Games and Comics David Whelan said he and other patrons would help James with his homework when he came by, describing him as quiet but also witty and likable who would be a friend to everybody.
“He would jump into any situation, especially if someone needed it,” Whelan said.
Anderson Lee Aldrich, the accused shooter who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns according to their defense team, was able to kill five and injure 25 others before Richard Fierro and Thomas James stopped the killing.