Denver police officers have arrested a man suspected of unlawful sexual contact on the 16th Street Mall and are currently looking for more potential victims in at least the third incident of its type over the past two years at the iconic shopping stop and tourist attraction.
Last year, following reports of increasing violence along the mall, including a stabbing, the Downtown Denver Partnership and the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, in cooperation with the Denver Police Department, announced a new security plan for the area.
This strategy, which included tripling the number of DPD officers walking that particular beat and the deployment of private security officers, appears to have improved the situation. The number of high-profile offenses has diminished significantly in 2017, and response time has improved. Indeed, the bust in the latest case is said to have taken place within minutes, with officers taking the thus-far-unnamed suspect into custody after a woman he allegedly assaulted helped detain him.
Still, the time the incident took place (11:30-11:40 a.m. on Thursday, June 15) and the location (the 400 block of 16th Street, very close to the Denver Pavilions) raise concerns and recall two 2015 crimes we covered in this space — one solved, one not.
At around 7:35 a.m. on August 31 of that year, Denver police say, a crime spree got under way near 1500 Stout Street. That's when a man later identified as Jerry Odell allegedly told a woman, "You're so pretty," then demanded that she "give him a little something" before grabbing her in the area of her breasts and fleeing.
A short distance away, Odell was accused of grabbing the arm of another woman. After she broke free, she sought help from RTD security.
Victim number three was accosted in the lobby of the Rio Grande Lofts, at 1531 Stout.
The woman at the Rio Grande said Odell swept her into a bear hug and started licking her face.
Her initial attempts to get away from him were unsuccessful.
In addition, she said, he threw her phone to the floor and groped her breasts and below her waist.
He only stopped his attack after her screaming alerted someone else in the building to her peril, she added.
Still, Odell wasn't finished.
A fourth victim was abused on the 1500 block of Champa Street; Odell allegedly held her to him, reached under her skirt and began "ramming her with his pelvis."
Before any more attacks could take place, cops finally located Odell and took him into custody.
Less than three weeks later, on September 19, 2015, a woman was sexually assaulted on the 500 block of 16th Street, behind the Barnes & Noble outlet.
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The DPD described the suspect as a white or Hispanic male. He was thin, stood about five feet, nine inches tall, wore his hair short, was approximately 25 years of age, and likely answered to "Frank."
The Denver police released a slew of surveillance photos showing the suspect — but we've been unable to find any reports saying that he was ever found or held responsible for his actions.
As for the current case, the suspect's mug shot has not been released at this writing because of the ongoing investigation and the possibility that he'll appear in lineups. Meanwhile, the Denver Police Department is looking for witnesses to the latest incident or anyone else who may have been victimized. Call 720-913-7867 for more information.