Nearly three months after a Denver police detective observed a man firing a gun in the air during the protests in downtown Denver in late May, an Aurora resident has been arrested and charged with the federal crime of unlawfully possessing a firearm as an undocumented immigrant.
Felix Missael Alva, a 29-year-old previously deported Mexican national who is living in the United States without papers, remains in federal custody. A lawyer from the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Districts of Colorado and Wyoming, which has a policy of not commenting on cases, represented Alva in his initial appearance in the U.S. District Court of Colorado. He is facing up to ten years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the criminal complaint against Alva, penned by an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, at around 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 30, a Denver police detective in plain clothes was walking on Washington Street, just south of Colfax Avenue, when a white Jeep Cherokee with the license plate OEZ060 stopped next to him.
The detective observed a “Hispanic male, approximately in his 30s with a medium to heavy build.” That passenger looked at the detective, said, "Hey homie!," and then told him, "This ain't no peaceful protest, fuck twelve!," according to the complaint. "Fuck twelve" is slang for "Fuck the police."
The man in the Jeep then pulled out a "large black semi-automatic handgun and held it down beneath the window before beginning to tap the muzzle on the side of the Jeep's passenger door," the complaint states.
Then the man pointed at a Denver police helicopter, which was flying overhead with a local news helicopter, and said, "This is for them!," before opening fire. Another detective and nearby police officer also observed the man shooting the gun, according to the complaint. The driver of the Jeep then turned westbound onto East 14th Avenue, a one-way street for eastbound traffic only.
On June 2, Denver police officers tracked down a white Jeep with the plate OEZ060 in a driveway outside of a house in Aurora. The police seized the vehicle, which contained "antipolice protest signs," as well as a "large box of artillery shell fireworks; the same type rioters were using to throw at police officers throughout the week."
Two days later, just after dawn, the Aurora SWAT Team executed a search warrant at the same Aurora house, where Alva, his wife and their two small children were living. After he exited the home, Alva was promptly arrested.
The detective who had witnessed the May 30 incident and identified Alva now asked what he had done the previous weekend. Alva responded that he had gone fishing and "visited Denver," according to the complaint. The detective followed up by asking if Alva had been at the Denver protests on the night of May 30. Alva responded that he and his wife had attended the protest over the previous weekend, but couldn't remember if it was May 29 or 30. Alva noted that his wife drives the Jeep when they're together and he sits in the passenger seat.
Asked if he had shot a gun into the air, Alva denied shooting or owning a gun, the complaint states. The detective then asked Alva if there were any guns in the home; Alva told the detective to ask his wife. Police then searched a shed behind the home and found a "Hi-Point Model JMP, .45 caliber handgun," which the detective said he recognized as the handgun he'd seen on May 30.
A law enforcement records search showed that Alva was in the U.S. illegally and had been deported in 2010. That led prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado to charge Alva with "possession of a firearm/ammunition by a person illegally or unlawfully in the United States."
He is not charged with possession of anything else, although Alva told officers "they were lighting off fireworks from the Jeep," but "denied throwing them at the police," according to the complaint.
No, he threw them at the Capitol.
Around 11 p.m. on June 1, after another night of protests in downtown Denver, a few hundred stragglers and a reporter remained in front of the Capitol. That's when a white Jeep with the license plate OEZ060 pulled up on Lincoln Street; a woman was behind the wheel. A man emerged from the sunroof and sat on top of the car. "Fuck the Capitol!" the man said, while lighting a firework and then launching it at the Capitol. Many protesters urged the man to stop, while others egged him on.
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The man then pointed to the sky and said, "Hey, we're with the protests," before adding, "Let's go up" and waving another firework.
When one of the protesters grabbed that firework, the man went back inside the Jeep, pulled out more fireworks, and launched another one. Not long after, law enforcement officers dispersed the remaining crowd with less-lethal weapons such as pepper balls. By then, though, the Jeep had left.
Although the police mug shot of Alva has not been released, we've compared our video of the night with the Facebook profile of "Felix Alva," who lives in Aurora. The man in the video we took that night appears to be the Felix Alva on that page.
Alva will have a detention hearing on August 28. Government prosecutors are asking that he be kept in federal custody.