Blood In, Blood Out

Danny Ray Lopez couldnít outrun his gang life or the police. Will his brother follow in his footsteps?

"What do you want me to do?" he replied angrily. "Do you want me to go to prison or be here with you?"

"At least we'd have a chance," she said.

But Danny told her he would never go back to prison. And she knew then that there would be no life with the man she loved, no father for her daughter. He left her angrily and went on the run with his brother. Dustin had warrants out for him in Denver, too. They were only for traffic violations, but Dustin wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps.

Gloria Lopez has already lost one son and worries she may lose another.
Gloria Lopez has already lost one son and worries she may lose another.
Gloria Lopez has already lost one son and worries she may lose another.
David Rehor
Gloria Lopez has already lost one son and worries she may lose another.


For the two months that Danny was on the run, Barbara didn't see him. He called often to talk to Mariah, but their own conversations were filled with foreboding. Danny was often drunk when he called, saying he was on "a party mish," or mission. More disturbing was when he changed that to him being on "a death mish" -- not caring if he lived or died or who he took with him.

Danny and Dustin didn't seem particularly concerned about being apprehended when they visited Danaia on the night of October 30. They wanted her to go with them to visit haunted houses. But Danaia didn't approve of the girls her brothers were with and declined the invitation. So they disappeared into the dark, wearing their red like trick-or-treaters.

Around 6:30 Halloween morning, Lakewood police officer Kris DeRoehn was patrolling near Kendall Street and West Florida Avenue when he saw two young Hispanic males crossing a yard on foot. They were wearing red shirts, red pants and red shoes.

A BOLO -- be on the lookout -- had been issued that morning for two Hispanic males wanted in connection with an automobile theft. DeRoehn decided to contact this pair, radioing his intent and position first. He pulled up alongside them and indicated that he wanted them to come over and talk to him. The younger and smaller of the two began to comply, but the older one kept walking.

The police officer got out of his car with his nightstick in hand to pursue the older suspect. He was partway across the street when his quarry turned with a gun in his hand and fired. The bullet struck DeRoehn in the leg, passing through his right calf muscle.

As he stumbled backward, drawing his gun, DeRoehn heard his own patrol car roar past behind him. He fired at the vehicle but the car kept going. Reaching for his portable radio, DeRoehn, married and a police officer for two and a half years, called in the words that strike fear and anger in the hearts of police officers everywhere: "Officer down!"

Help arrived quickly from other officers already en route following DeRoehn's initial call. Soon a West Metro Fire Rescue team arrived and rushed the wounded officer to St. Anthony's Hospital. As doctors attended to DeRoehn, word went out to metro-area agencies informing them that an officer had been shot and giving a description of the suspects. DeRoehn's cruiser was found a half-dozen blocks away. One of his shots had struck a tire, and the thief had fled on foot.

Police discovered the car that had been reported stolen, which led to identification of the suspects: Danny Ray Lopez III, age 28, and his 19-year-old brother, Dustin Delaciano Lopez. They were ID'd as gang members, and the older of the two was thought to be armed with the 9 mm handgun he had used to shoot DeRoehn.

About 3 p.m., Barbara was home looking after eight-year-old Mariah, who was painting, dressed only in her underwear so as not to mess up her clothes. There was a knock on the door, and when Barbara answered, she was ordered to come out with her hands up.

She did as she was told, and was surprised to see as many as twenty police officers with their handguns drawn. They made Mariah go outside in her underwear as they searched the home.

Barbara told them she had not seen Danny in weeks. She asked what he had done and was told only that he had "shot at somebody in Lakewood." But she knew by their numbers and intensity that whatever Danny had done, it was serious.

When they left, Barbara turned on the news. There was a report about a police officer being shot in Lakewood. She hoped Danny wasn't involved, but she knew that he was. She feared she would not see him alive again.

That same afternoon, Danaia's husband was watching TV when a report came on about two Hispanic males being sought in connection with the shooting of a police officer. The description matched Danny and Dustin, but she couldn't believe it was them.

"I know my brothers are crazy," she said. "But they're not that stupid." Shooting a cop was as good as putting a gun to your own head.

A little later, they were sitting on the front porch with Gloria Lopez when they noticed that an undercover police car had cruised by several times. They realized that it was Danny and Dustin the police were looking for.

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