Abdul Muhammad Funeral-Goer Murder: Crowd Pepper Sprayed (48)
Update: The mourner bound for Abdul Muhammad's funeral who was murdered near 32nd and Gilpin on April 25 has been identified as Nolan Ware.
He had celebrated his 22nd birthday five days before his death.
The Denver coroner's office determined the cause of death to be a gunshot wound.
The Denver Police Department is now touting a $7,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for taking Ware's life. The offer is sketched out in the tweet below. That's followed by our previous coverage.
Update, 6:41 a.m. April 27: We've been reporting about the April 11 slaying of Abdul Muhammad at a house in the Cole neighborhood that residents say has been the scene of multiple shootings prior to the homicide. See our coverage about the latter part of the story below.
This tragedy was compounded on Saturday, when a thus-far-unnamed relative of Muhammad's was killed as he prepared to attend Muhammad's funeral — a crime that prompted a statement from Denver Police Chief Robert White and Manager of Safety Stephanie O'Malley that features these six key words: "The violence has got to stop."
As we've reported, 61-year-old Muhammad, also known as John Oliver, was shot to death late on April 11.
The location: a house at 1625 Bruce Randolph Avenue where gunfire was hardly uncommon. One source told us there had been five shooting incidents in the vicinity, most taking place last year.
A Denver Police Department photo of the house at 1625 Bruce Randolph where Muhammad died.
Denver Police Department
Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson confirmed troubling incidents at the house. Although he declined to go into detail, he said efforts had been made to quell criminal activity there in December, and things had seemingly quieted down prior to the Muhammad shooting.
DPD personnel subsequently attended an April 16 community meeting prompted by the shooting. An attendee tells us that approximately one hundred people turned up, including Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks and a representative from the office of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
According to an attendee, the crowd was told the murder wasn't gang-related. Instead, speakers maintained that the killing appeared to have been committed by someone who had a personal beef with Muhammad.
The next day, the DPD issued a crime bulletin soliciting help from the community in finding the person responsible for killing Muhammad; if you have any information, you're encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867).
In the meantime, his family assembled Muhammad's online obituary, seen below in its entirety, and began planning his funeral.
A photo of Abdul Muhammad released by the Denver Police Department.
Denver Police Department
The service was planned for Saturday at a mortuary on East Colfax, and many of those who planned to attend gathered at 32nd and Gilpin to wait for a limousine en route to pick them up. But before the vehicle arrived, members of the funeral party were plunged into terror, as indicated by this DPD tweet....
BREAKING: DPD on scene of a shooting at 3200 block of Gilpin. 1 Vict. transported. No suspect info. at this time.— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) April 25, 2015
...and its distressing followup:
UPDATE BREAKING on shooting in 3200blk of Gilpin the victim pronounced deceased at hospital. No susp info. Ongoing investigation.NFI#Denver— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) April 25, 2015
The gunfire caused understandable panic among those at the scene. The DPD officers who responded are said to have called for backup and used pepper spray to get the crowd under control.
Thus far, the Denver coroner's office hasn't officially announced the name of the victim. However, 7News quotes Muhammad's daughter as saying he was her cousin, a man in his twenties.
Late Saturday evening, Chief White and Manage of Safety O'Malley issued a joint statement about the incident. It reads:
The Denver Police Department has utilized officers, technology, and enforcement strategies over the past several months to address gang violence in the neighborhood where today's shooting took place. Although we have already increased our efforts in this area, and will continue to maintain a strong presence there, it is imperative to the community's safety that anyone with information about these crimes comes forward. We also implore those who are engaged in the type of violence that occurred today to immediately cease their activity. The violence has got to stop. Residents in Denver deserve to feel safe in their community no matter where they live.
At this writing, no arrests have been made.
Continue to see the aforementioned 7News report and the text from Abdul Muhammad's obituary. That's followed by our previous coverage.
May 28, 1953-April 11, 2015
Resided in Denver, CO
The world welcomed, Abdul Rahim Muhammad, who was born John Riley Oliver to his parents, Isaac Vernon Oliver and Celia Weeks on May 28th 1953, in Wichita, Kansas. He was the 3rd son, and 4th of 5 children born in the family. He grew up surrounded by his brothers, Ernest Jean, Richard Edward and his sisters, Sandra Kay and Lynette. He also grew up with his cousins, Doris, Della, Gerald, Marcus, and Genise.
Health issues caused the family to move to Denver, Colorado. Abdul was raised in a family oriented environment. His Father taught him that he would be held accountable for his decisions. He experienced the loss of his oldest brother, Ernest Jean, and sister, Sandra Kay while in his early twenties. His father, Isaac Vernon passed away in March of 1986. He quickly took a more active and protective role over his mother, Celia Oliver and baby sister, Lynette. The Oliver Family enjoyed family outings, and spending time with friends. There was always a family function or event being hosted by the Oliver's. Growing up he was very popular and had many, many friends throughout school. He attended Manual High School where he graduated in 1973.
In 1973, his first son, Andre was born to him and Debra Shoeboot. He and Priscilla Hamilton have two children a son, Jabali, and his first daughter, Johnnie. A son, Steven was born with Sheila Ware. With the late Delia Bonds, a daughter, Tawnya was born. His daughter, Makia was born with Joyce Crowley, a son Higdon was born with Tammy Burton. Muhammad and Naomi have a son they named, Omarion. He has a son; John Riley, Jr. and a daughter, Jantha from his first wife, Sherry Burgess. He later married his current wife, Lorraine and to this union, a son, Isaac Riley Oliver was born. Isaac was named after his grandfather, Isaac Vernon. This was Muhammad's way of honoring his late father.
Abdul had various jobs in his lifetime, including working in a nursing home, newspaper delivery for the Denver Post/Rocky Mountain News. Most recently, he owned his own business, M&G's. He was blessed with many, many friends, many whom he has known since moving to Denver. Some of his good friends include, Calvin, Kenny, Chocolate, and Lanny. He enjoyed being a dad, his children remember him being family oriented, audacious and stubborn. Being away from him children as some of them were growing up, he was determined to not allow his grandchildren to not have a good relationship
with him. His grandchildren truly were a source of joy and pride to him. He loved every opportunity to be with each and every one of them. He enjoyed being a "grandpa." His grandchildren remember him being loving, funny and taking up for them.
Other family members remember him being crazy, solid, generous, and a good leader. As a friend, he was responsible, compassionate, and caring. He was a man about his money, and he enjoyed the benefits of saving and being able to reward himself and his family. He enjoyed family cook outs. He cared for his family, often going grocery shopping, helping with bills, and every now and then cooking his famous chicken burritos that everyone enjoyed. He enjoyed spending quality time with his sister, Lynette, just talking, planning, and enjoying each other's company.
His favorite colors were red and green. He loved seafood, and always had his niece, Tesha cooking for him. If he needed paperwork, he would call on his niece, Tina to help him out. He had special nicknames for almost everyone. He enjoyed watching movies, and spending time with his youngest sons, Isaac and Omarion. He enjoyed watching reality shows and Law and Order. He loved all his family, and he had a special relationship with each person. He was man all about his family, if you messed with his family, you messed with him. He shared with everyone, the importance of family. "When you have family you have it all." He enjoyed life and had many plans. If you drove by, you would see him standing outside. He was always willing to help others. He could be very direct at times, but with him he was honest and what you saw you got. His neighbors remember him as always having a smile on his face, being outside early in the morning sitting in his truck. He would always speak and ask "how are you?" He knew so many people and everyone in the neighborhood knew who Abdul was. He was well liked and respected by the young and old. He had a soft side to him to, he had been sick, but never allowed that to stop him. When he didn't feel good, he just kept going. He didn't allow anything or anyone to get him down, and most surely not keep him down. He was a proud man, determined to do things his way, and he did. While we don't understand, we must have faith that God truly knows best. "Earth has no sorry that heaven can't heal." We are left to carry on without him. He will be greatly missed, his presence, his smile, his keys jingling, his turning out all the lights, his looking through pots and pans wondering what we were cooking that day. His laughter and his joy, are a couple of traits that made him so special and loved by us all. To have met and known Abdul was a blessing and a gift from above. He will be forever missed.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Isaac and Celia Oliver; a brother, Ernest J. Oliver and a sister, Sandra K. Oliver.
The story has been written, the book contains all that it could. This earthly chapter closed for Abdul Rahim Muhammed when he departed this life on Friday, April 11, 2015, in Denver, Colorado.
Those who will cherish so many precious memories include, his wife, Lorraine Muhammad of Denver, Colorado; his children, Andre Oliver, Jabali Oliver, Johnnie Oliver, Makia Peevey, Jantha Reeves, John Oliver Jr., Isaac Oliver, Higdon Burton all of Denver, Colorado. Steven Ware, Tawnya Bonds, and Omarion Oliver all of Aurora, Colorado; one brother, Richard Oliver of Denver; one sister, Lynette (Tyrone) Ware also of Denver; his grandsons, Tevon, DaShaun, Steven Jr., DeJon, Vonte, Justin, Isaiah, Kofi, Ajay, Ni'John; his granddaughters, Shauntel, Sidea, Ne'Taivia, Mehki, Jasslyn, Jalayah, Brittany, Ahnya, Briana, Pride, Amira; his nieces, Patricia, Tina N., Tesha, Tonia, and Teacca; eight great nephews and six great nieces; two great-great nephews; and two great-great nieces; his devoted friends, Priscilla Hamilton, Joyce Crowley and Naomi and a host of cousins, other relatives, and many, many friends.
The Broken Chain
We little knew that morning that
God was going to call your name
In life we loved you dearly; in death we do the same
It broke our hearts to lose you; you did not go alone
For part of us is with you, that day God called you home
You left us peaceful memories; your love is still our guide
And though we cannot see you, you are always at our side
Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same
But as God call us one by one, the chain will link again.
Editor's note: The original version of this post cited news-media reports that Abdul Muhammad's funeral was supposed to take place at a facility near 32nd and Gilpin — an assertion debunked by Reverend Leon Kelly, who had been asked to provide security at the mortuary where the services were scheduled. We've corrected the text above to reflect the accurate information.
Original post, 7:22 a.m. April 16: This week, we've been posting about an April 11 homicide on the 1600 block of Bruce Randolph Avenue — an incident that cost the life of Abdul Muhammad, 61.
In a tragic coincidence, Muhammad is the second person with his name to be slain in Denver since January. That month, 22-year-old Abdul Muhammad was stabbed to death on Colfax.
Since our first report, we've heard from some neighbors about the area — part of the Cole neighborhood. They report that multiple shootings have taken place there, with most seemingly concentrated on the home at 1625 Bruce Randolph, near where Muhammad was shot to death.
A Google Maps image of 1625 Bruce Randolph Avenue.
One person, communicating online, notes that before moving there, "we did our due diligence on the area, talked to the neighbors & the police before making our decision to purchase there. I utilized the online tool that DPD has regarding reported crimes in Denver and saw that, yes, there are things that have happened in Cole. However, Cole was not at the top of the list or bottom. At the time it was worse in Cap Hill."
Over time, the resident met plenty of neighbors in the area and "talked to Muhammad on a few occasions, as well as his friends that hang around there. Always nice & very polite. We were told by a few neighbors that we should probably stay away from that house (1625 Bruce Randolph)" because "stuff goes down at that place a lot. We have no direct evidence of that, just neighbors advising us."
Since then, the resident confirms a "drive-by shooting that occurred around Christmas." He reveals that in addition to hitting 1625 Bruce Randolph, another house halfway down an alley was struck as well, with the bullet penetrating the back wall. Fortunately, the resident of the second structure wasn't home at the time.
The resident adds that "remnants of bullet holes" can be seen in the stucco and window areas of the house.
A HALO surveillance camera is nearby, on the northeast corner of Bruce Randolph and Gilpin, but thus far, footage hasn't led to an arrest in the Muhammad shooting, and the residents who reached out to us aren't aware of busts related to previous shooting incidents — as many as five, one source estimates.
A photo from the April 11 crime scene on Bruce Randolph Avenue.
When asked about these assertions, Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson concedes that "during the month of December, there was quite a bit going on at that house, and officers did take some action there" — he doesn't specify exactly what kind. "But really, we hadn't seen anything else at the house until the recent homicide. So obviously, we've got more work to do."
Jackson adds that "we want to work with the community to solve these crimes. The chief" — Denver Police Chief Robert White — "says all the time that we need the community's eyes and ears to address these problems. Those are the biggest tools we have to combat crime."
To that end, what's termed a "Cole Neighborhood Emergency Meeting" is slated to take place at 7:30 p.m. tonight, April 16, at Tramway Nonprofit Center, 3532 Franklin Street. Attendees are expected to include representatives of DPD District 2, the police gang unit, Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks, members of the Cole Neighborhood Association and the Reverend Leon Kelly. For more information, click here.
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