COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Ashley Paugh capped off a day trip in this city with a night of fun at the LGBTQ nightclub Club Q when a lone gunman opened fire, killing her and four others, her sister told NBC News in an exclusive interview.
Stephanie Clark said Paugh, 35, was a loving mother and wife who was devoted to her family, including her 11-year-old daughter.
"My niece is devastated," Clark said, adding that Paugh "lived for her daughter."
In a phone interview Monday, Clark sobbed and described an intense swirl of emotions in the wake of her sister's death.
"It just doesn't seem real," Clark said. "We're heartbroken. We're sad. We're mad, angry."
Paugh, whose sister said she was not part of the LGBTQ community, spent Saturday in Colorado Springs with a female friend. They had driven up from La Junta, Colorado.
The two friends got a bite to eat, went shopping and planned to end the night at Club Q, where they were expecting a stand-up comedian to perform, Clark said.
Paugh's hobbies included fishing and hunting; just last week, she shot a deer, her sister said.
Clark said that Thanksgiving will be extraordinarily difficult without Paugh.
"Nothing will ever be the same without her," Clark said. "Right now, I don’t want to laugh. She was a loving, caring person who would do anything for anybody. We're gonna miss her so much."
A suspect is in custody after being subdued by at least two people inside the club, officials said.
Club Q on Sunday decried "disgusting rhetoric" aimed at the LGBTQ community and thanked those who "moved immediately to stop the gunman" and likely prevented "more loss of life."
"Club Q is in shock, and in deep mourning, with the family and friends who had loved ones senselessly taken from them.
"We condemn the horrific violence that shattered an evening of celebration for all in the LGBTQ community of Colorado Springs and our allies," the club said in a statement released through GLAAD.
Deon J. Hampton reported from Colorado Springs, Colorado; Daniel Arkin reported from New York.
CORRECTION (Nov. 22, 2022, 12:04 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misspelled the victim’s last name. It’s Paugh, not Pogue.