Crime

Update: Weekend Homicides Pile Up in Metro Denver

The scene following a fatal shooting on the 7900 block of Hollywood Street in Commerce City early on December 4.
The scene following a fatal shooting on the 7900 block of Hollywood Street in Commerce City early on December 4. Adams County Sheriff's Office
At the end of last week, concern was growing over crime in the Union Station area, highlighted by complaints from the union representing RTD employees. But while both Union Station, where additional police were deployed, and the City and County of Denver in general saw less violence than has become common since last summer, there were a number of alarming incidents elsewhere in the metro area, including a fatal shooting in Thornton as well as homicides in Commerce City, Aurora and Highlands Ranch, and an officer-involved shooting in Westminster during which a suspect was killed.

On December 3, following multiple reports about crime in and around Union Station, Mayor Michael Hancock issued the following statement: "Passengers at and residents around Union Station have contacted my office over the last several weeks with concerns about public safety at Union Station. In response to these concerns, I have directed our Public Safety Director and my Chief of Staff to meet with RTD management and the ATU [Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001] today, and have sent senior level city staff down to the area to assess conditions and report back to me. Illegal drug use, public urination and unsafe loitering must not be allowed to continue. Union Station is an important public transit and commercial space and we will redouble our efforts to ensure it is clean and safe for all those who use and enjoy it. To commence immediately, Police Chief [Paul] Pazen will increase police presence around Union Station to augment RTD in its effort to address illegal and unsafe behavior within the terminal."

This approach appears to have worked, at least in the short term. The Denver Crime Map lists no crimes of any type for the Union Station area on December 3 and December 4, the most recent dates for which statistics are available. Moreover, the only major crime in the city cited by the Denver Police Department over the entire weekend was a stabbing on the 4400 block of Elizabeth Street on the evening of December 3; the victim's injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Other individuals across the metro area weren't as fortunate.

According to the Thornton Police Department, officers received a medical call at around 8:17 p.m. on December 3. The TPD initially reported that a man  who later died at an area hospital had been stabbed, but a followup revealed he'd actually been shot. The victim was Fernando Perez, age eighteen.

Hours later, at 1:52 a.m. on December 4, Adams County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to the 7900 block of Hollywood Street in Commerce City. They discovered two injured parties: an adult female with multiple gunshot wounds and an adult male with damage from multiple blunt-force blows. Two other adult males were subsequently delivered to North Suburban Hospital by a private vehicle. One of the men was already dead, while the second was treated for a gunshot wound to the hip. None of the individuals has been identified thus far, nor has any suspect information been released.

Shortly thereafter, at 7:46 a.m. on December 4, officers with the Aurora Police Department, who have been dealing with a disturbing spike of violence lately, were called to the 1400 block of Akron Street on a report of a shooting. An adult male found there later died of his injuries. The Arapahoe County coroner's office will release the victim's name after next-of-kin notification.

Cut to 11:59 a.m. on December 4, when the Douglas County Sheriff's Office tweeted about a homicide investigation in the area of Park Central Drive and Lucent in Highlands Ranch. The DCSO subsequently identified the victim as Jamie Sullivan, 49, and authorities believe 55-year-old Art Valentine, who was later found deceased, shot her to death.

Finally, around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 5, Westminster Police Department officers were alerted to a single-vehicle crash on the 10300 block of Wadsworth Parkway. One of the cops spotted a person matching the description of the driver in a ditch just north of Standley Lake High School. At that point, the suspect is said to have taken a shot at the officer, who returned fire. The individual was hit, and while the WPD stresses that the officers rendered aid, he didn't survive. Critical-incident response teams from the 1st Judicial District and 17th Judicial District are investigating the shooting.

If you have information about any of these incidents, contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867).
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts