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This Week in Freudenfreude: Dragged Down

We were considering this story for freudenfreude this week, and then reader E.S. in Half Moon Bay, CA, recommended it, and that was enough to push it over the top.

The subject here is Richard M. Fierro, who is a 15-year Army veteran who left the service with the rank of major and who did four tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. In short, he was already a military hero before he became famous (at least temporarily) this week. Fierro was at a table in Club Q last week when the venue was invaded by a mass shooter. The shooter was heavily armed, and was certainly in a position to inflict the sort of death toll that we've seen in similar circumstances in the past. In the Orlando club shooting, for example, 49 people were killed. It's not so easy to escape from an enclosed space, especially when everyone is trying to do the same. So, in such circumstances, there's all kinds of potential for a shooter to just mow people down.

Five people died at Club Q, which is tragic, but it would surely have been more if not for Fierro. As a highly trained (former) combat soldier, the gunfire caused his martial instincts to kick in. He charged across the club, tackled the gunman, and beat him senseless with his own weapon. Fierro also got some help; a second clubgoer managed to seize one of the gunman's weapons, while a trans woman stomped on the gunman with her high heels.

So, a fellow who was already a bona fide hero as a soldier is now a bona fide hero as a civilian. His story also reminds us to resist reaching conclusions with incomplete information. In the day or two after the shooting, the story told by most media outlets was the shooter was straight and that the victims and the person who disarmed the gunman (i.e., Fierro) were gay. That makes for a tidy narrative, perhaps, but not a correct one. In fact, the shooter's lawyer now says that the shooter identifies as nonbinary. Meanwhile, two of the five victims are straight. And as to Fierro, he is also straight, and was at Q Club to see a drag show with his wife and daughter. And from where we sit, "Grizzled Army veteran, in the middle of enjoying drag show, saves lives while disarming mad gunman" is a hell of a better story than the original, incorrect version.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend, everyone. (Z)

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