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Battling the ups and downs: Club Q survivors reflect on their healing journey

Posted at 6:30 AM, Nov 19, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — The past 365 days have looked vastly different for each person who survived the attack on Club Q exactly one year ago.

For those who were injured, the physical healing of their wounds is only one part of their story. The mental trauma and grief may be the hardest parts to overcome.

Ashtin Gamblin, the door girl that night, was shot nine times. She spent six days in the hospital and soon found herself at daily doctor's appointments while recovering from her injuries.

"I did not know one day to the next, what I was doing unless it was, you know, my husband keeping track or my mom keeping track for a while," said Gamblin.

Ashtin Gamblin
Ashtin Gamblin, left, is pictured with her husband, right, while recovering in the hospital after she was shot nine times at Club Q.

She says she developed Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from that night, which still shows itself in ugly ways.

"I, personally, don't take walks by myself or anything like that. I want to be with somebody if I'm going to be outside," she said.

Gamblin lost two dear friends, Daniel Aston and Derrick Rump, in the shooting. She keeps a basket of Aston's belongings and a $5 tip from him on a bookshelf in her home. She said she and Rump shared a love for music and enjoyed going to concerts together. She said she is slowly working toward going to live shows again after the tragedy.

Ashtin Gamblin
Ashtin Gamblin reaches for a $5 bill given to her by Daniel Aston, who was killed in the Club Q shooting. The scars from surgery after being shot are still healing on her arm.

"We're trying to kind of put my life back together, you know, trying to go to bars or drag shows. For me, one of the big things is going to concerts," she said. "With everything that was taken that night, I kind of told myself he doesn't get to take music either."

Looking back, Gamblin said she realizes she is a much stronger person than she thought she was.

"I think for me, it's now realizing, like, it's okay to be sad, it's okay to have your moment. You went through so much and I think I was a little less forgiving of myself before," she said.

Ed Sanders
Ed Sanders was a regular at Club Q and was standing near the bar when the shooter walked in. He was shot twice and survived.

Ed Sanders was a regular at Club Q and was standing near the bar when the shooter walked in. He was shot twice and survived.

"I felt like a spray of liquid on my back and I turned around and looked at him and all I could see was the flash of the bullets," he said. "We were playing dead basically because I didn't know if he was going to come back."

The cane he was using that night was hit by a bullet. Sanders said the cane likely saved him from being shot a third time.

Cane hit by bullet
Ed Sanders shows his cane that was hit by a bullet the night of the shooting at Club Q. He said the cane likely saved him from being shot a third time.

He said he feels the perpetual tightness in his back where doctors had to sew him up after surgery. He spent nearly three weeks in the hospital after the shooting. Sanders said it wasn't until he got home that he started grieving. Amazingly, he said he has never felt anger toward the shooter.

"I just kind of felt pity for him, really. I didn't feel anger about the shooting," he said.

Now a year later, Sanders said he has been given a new perspective on life. He said he continues to go out in public to bars and restaurants without fear.

"I'm not going to shy away. He didn't stop me one bit," he said. "I think it really has prompted me to get out there and experience things. If I want to live, I better do it now."

Ed Sanders
Ed Sanders said the shooting at Club Q has pushed him to live a life full of purpose. He said the shooter cannot take that away from him.

Anthony Malburg is speaking to News5 in his first one-on-one TV interview after the shooting. He went to the bar that night to watch the drag show and left with five gunshot wounds.

"It wasn't until I smelt the powder and I saw blood is when I knew what happened. I went to go and take a step and I collapsed," said Malburg.

He said he remembers crawling over to another couple and playing dead while the shooter was still inside the club.

"As I was laying there, just seeing the people coming out and the devastation that I felt was just out of this world," he said.

Anthony Malburg
Anthony Malburg speaks at a press conference just 3 days after the Club Q shooting as he recovered from his injuries at the hospital.

Malburg was released from the hospital on Thanksgiving Day. Since then, he has had to go back for emergency surgery after doctors found necrotic tissue and a bad infection stemming from his injuries. Five months after the shooting, Malburg went back to work at a construction site. It was there he realized the toll the shooting would have on him.

"All you hear are nail guns and loud banging noises. I was walking down the driveway and they were using the nail gun. Bang bang bang. I dropped my ladder and tool bag and I ran to the van," he said. "I'm always looking for an escape route. I'm always looking for a place to hide and I can never let my guard down."

He said he suffers from PTSD and hasn't felt comfortable going to a bar again. However, Malburg made a significant step in his healing journey when he went back to see the site of the club with his counselor for the first time since the shooting in October.

"We did it in stages because it was just too much for me. As we got closer, I felt nothing. I felt empty," he said. "That's what brought me a lot of the peace and helped me as well to heal, because I knew that they [the victims] weren't there anymore."

Anthony Malburg and Jeremy Gold
Anthony Malburg (right) and his husband, Jeremy (left), embrace in front of their home. The past 365 days have been heavy, but their love for each other remains a constant source of hope for the two of them.

Malburg said since the shooting he has gained a new appreciation for love and for the people in his life, including his husband, Jeremy.

"For me, the biggest message is to keep the love," he said. "I appreciate every moment that I have and the people that come into our lives. Everybody all wants the same thing, in the end. It's just love."

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