SAN ANTONIO – The mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs has bar and club owners on the St. Mary’s Strip in San Antonio rallying together to reassure patrons that all are welcome to their establishments.
Aaron Pena owns the Squeezebox on the strip, and like many owners, he’s feeling the effects of the shooting hundreds of miles away.
“That’s the nightmare scenario that every bar owner has. A shooting in any establishment is terrible. It’s a tragedy, devastating to not only the community but the business as well,” said Pena, who also owns Amor Eterno.
For years, Pena said he and many other places on the strip have had armed and third-party security guards, but he understands attacks like Saturday’s at Club Q are hard to prevent.
“It’s very alarming because these are very targeted attacks. Let’s call it what it is — hate crimes,” said Pena. “I think that’s got a lot to do with what’s going on in this country and the state as well, not just what’s happening in bars.”
Chad Carey also owns several local bars and business establishments. He said San Antonio bar owners have worked together to create a safe space for everyone.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone that undertakes actions where someone from that community feels threatened, unsafe or unwelcome. That’s not who we are,” said Carey.
In light of the shooting, San Antonio police said they increased patrol presence in the St. Mary’s and Main Street entertainment districts during the overnight hours. Police said officers would monitor for unusual activity and threats.
“It makes me viscerally angry to think that a specific community, whether it’s LGBTQ+ or people of color or people of religious persuasion that’s a specific community, would be targeted,” said Carey. “And all that we can do is try to be a force for good in a world that sometimes doesn’t make any sense.”
Pena said, “The goal for us always is to create a safe space for anybody, regardless of what walk of life or sexual orientation. The main message we always want to convey is that you have a space here. We’re going to do anything in our power to make that a reality for you.”