COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Thomas James was standing outside on the patio of Club Q in Colorado Spring when a gunman barged into the building.
"The gunshots initially, to me, sounded like drum beats," James said.
But then he started to hear screams.
"I looked across to a friend of mine, the friend I had just made, and they started moving in one direction, and I moved to these escape shutters that were in the back, closing off the rest of the patio, hoping to get them open as a way to kind of try and guide people through as quickly as possible so we can close them behind us," James said.
"When I realized I didn't know how to get them open, I thought to myself, 'I have to buy my friends time' and I walked in," he said.
The Navy sailor was the first to try to stop the shooter, grabbing the barrel of one of two guns the shooter had.
"I don't think I was able to get it out of their hand," James said. "They eventually did drop it, though. At one point they did reach for a pistol and they shot me in the chest."
Despite suffering from a gunshot wound, James kept fighting.
Richard Fierro moved in next, joining James hitting the shooter multiple times attempting to wrestle away the multiple guns in the shooter's possession.
"No human wants to do that to another human, I don't care if it's if it's a bad person or not," Fierro said. "I knew I had to stop him, and if he kept moving, then I have to keep hitting him. And that's the same reason Thomas is kicking the guy in the head."
At the time Fierro had no idea if his wife, their daughter, and their daughter's boyfriend, Raymond Vance, were okay. He would later learn Vance was killed. Another couple who joined the family for a night out were both shot. Thankfully they survived.
The final person to step in was Drea Norman. During victim impact statements in the courtroom, she said quote:
"I heard (Richard Fierro) shouting he needed help, (and that the) shooter was trying to crawl away. I stood above him, my only thought was to throw my foot down and stop him. After 10 strikes or so, I stopped, feeling like that was more than enough and I walked away."
The three heroes made a choice in a horrifying moment to put themselves in danger to save those they loved, just met, or did not even know.
"At the time, I just wanted to protect my family," said James. "I wanted to do the right thing, and I did and that makes me happier than almost anything else."
Fierro said everyone at Club Q did something heroic that night.
"It's an unexpected act, it's something you do beyond what you would expect yourself to do," said Fierro. "As soon as that first round went off, everybody was doing something that did not expect it to do. They were doing things not expected of them. That's a hero."