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Blood In, Blood Out

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

A friend of the family communicated with the boys and passed the word that they were okay but too frightened to call and possibly expose their whereabouts. The family passed word back, begging them to surrender. The family would find them an attorney, fight the charges. They had to give themselves up. But word came that Danny would not go back to prison.

Gloria Lopez was haunted by nightmares. In them, her sons were running from the police, but no matter how far and fast they ran, they were still caught and killed. It was so real that she would wake up in the night screaming.

Barbara hoped they would come in on their own. But she knew that Danny was gone. Dead or alive, he would never be hers again.

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.

The brothers' father was the only one to talk to them. Privately, though a little late, he wondered if things might have turned out differently if he had spent more time with his sons. Of Deuce-Seven members Danny and Dustin Lopez, Antonio and Daniel Martinez, Francisco Martinez, Alejandro and Gerard Ornelas and Frank Vigil, not one had his father living at home with him. All Danny Ray Lopez Jr. could do now was ask his sons what had happened.

Danny admitted shooting the police officer. But Dustin's version was that Danny had continued walking and looked back to see the police officer approaching Dustin with his nightstick raised as if to hit him. He then shot the officer in the leg so that Dustin could get away.

On November 16, about 2:30 p.m., Arapahoe County sheriff's deputy Tom Albershardt was called by Detective Alex Woods of the Denver Police Department's fugitive unit. Danny and Dustin had been featured in an advertisement in the Rocky Mountain News under the heading "50 Most Wanted Fugitives." And that had led to an informant calling Crimestoppers and reporting that the brothers were holed up at 3081 Eppinger Boulevard in Thornton.

That evening, officers from the Thornton, Lakewood and Northglenn Police Departments and deputies from Arapahoe County arrived in the neighborhood to monitor vehicle and foot traffic to and from the address. When people left the home, they were followed and then pulled over out of sight and sound from the house. The police used "high-risk," or felony, stop procedures: With guns drawn, they ordered occupants of cars to keep their hands in sight and get out of their cars to be checked.

About 9:45, two men and two women left the house and got in a green Honda. One of the females drove while a male sat in the front passenger seat; the other male and female were in the backseat.

The police pulled the car over and demanded that its occupants put up their hands and get out. Three of them began to do as ordered, but the male in the right front passenger seat wouldn't comply. Suddenly the doors on both sides of the car opened, followed by an officer's shout: "He's got a gun!"

The doors closed again as the male forced himself over on top of the driver and took control of the car, which sped away. Several marked police cruisers pursued.

The chase lasted only a couple of minutes before the driver hit a dip and lost control of the car, ending up on the front lawn of a home. The two males escaped from the car -- the driver carrying a handgun -- and ran, leaping over fences. The two female passengers were arrested. One of them told the police that the fleeing men were Danny and Dustin Lopez. Danny, she said, had pointed a gun at her head when he'd commandeered the car.

The police fanned out through the neighborhood. After ten minutes, they spotted a male running down Eppinger Street. Sergeant Jerry Peters, who had responded to the sighting with Officer Greg Reeves, saw another male on the sidewalk and shined his spotlight on him. The man was holding a handgun.

Instead of stopping as commanded, the suspect jumped into an unoccupied Arapahoe County sheriff's vehicle and sped away without turning on the headlights. Peters would later report that he saw the vehicle come within a couple of feet of striking Lieutenant Troy Smith, who was standing in the street. Smith identified the driver as one of the Lopez brothers.

The chase was on again, and again it was short-lived, as the man in the stolen car turned into a cul-de-sac with three police vehicles right behind, their lights and sirens going full blast. The suspect whipped his car around, hitting another parked vehicle, and stopped. The three police vehicles -- Reeves and Peters in one, Smith and Arapahoe deputy Jeff Britegam in the second, Albershardt and Northglenn officer Jeremy Sloan in the third -- also stopped, and the officers got out with their guns drawn.

The officers would later state in their reports that the suspect got out of the car with a gun in his hand. There was a standoff. A moment of indecision passed in a heartbeat. Then the young man jumped back inside the car and, with the tires screeching, aimed for Reeves.

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