On August 9, Denver experienced its first triple homicide
since the summer of 2016, when a drug deal went bad in Park Hill
. On Thursday, three bodies were discovered near the RTD light-rail station on South Broadway near the I-25 overpass. And according to the Denver Police Department, there's an added dimension to these latest murders: The three victims were all homeless.
The DPD has yet to announce the names of the three victims, their causes of death or any suspects in the crime. But the gravity of the murders and the fact that the victims were homeless has many Denverites on edge. On August 10, the St. Francis Center set up a table on Broadway near Civic Center Park
to let individuals experiencing homelessness know what happened and ways they can stay safe.
The location of the murders, just hundreds of feet from one of RTD's most significant bus and light-rail terminals, had us wondering how commuters were reacting to the news.
A warehouse next to the scene of the crime. By Friday afternoon, all police tape had been removed.
By noon Friday, August 10, the DPD had already completed its crime-scene investigation; the area just north of the RTD park-and-ride lots where the three bodies were found the day before was no longer surrounded by police tape or crawling with DPD detectives.
But just a minute walk away, plenty of commuters waited for buses and trains at the RTD station. Over two hours, Westword
spoke with approximately thirty RTD customers at the station.
As it turned out, just six individuals had heard about the crime that had happened there the day before — only around 20 percent of our sample.
But even those who had heard about the murders didn't see it as a reason to be overly concerned for their safety at the RTD station, or to change their commuting behavior.
As Gilbert Velasquez, a middle-aged man who was waiting for a bus, explained, “Sure, I read about this in the newspaper. But listen, we can't just stay in our houses. This is terrible, but you can't be scared. If this is how you get around, you don't really have a choice.”
Gilbert Velasquez was among the few who knew about the murders that had occurred the day before
A man sitting next to Velasquez, who identified himself only as Ivory, agreed. “I'm cautious who I talk to,” he said, but added that he doesn't consider the nearby crime a reason to avoid using the RTD station there.
Over on the light-rail platform, a younger man named Scott Williams was among the majority who had not heard about the crime. Williams said that in his frequent experiences using the I-25 & Broadway station, he's never seen a fight: “I mean, I sometimes see people arguing on the trains, but even when they get off, they don't fight or anything," he says.
“There are too many cameras and guards to do that shit.”
Indeed, during Westword
's time at the station, there were never fewer than three RTD-contracted security guards in the area.
Perhaps the person with the most insight was a former RTD bus driver who was waiting for the train. Asking to be identified only as Nick, he said he had driven all around Denver, including stops at the I-25 & Broadway station.
Nick hadn't heard of the triple homicide until he was interviewed. “That's too bad,” he noted, “but no, I don't feel afraid here. There are so many security cameras.”
Speaking from experience, Nick says that customers usually follow the instructions of drivers, guards and RTD employees. That's because people can get banned from using RTD buses if they misbehave, he explains.
“And this particular station, I'd rank it as maybe a two out of ten in terms of sketchiness,” he says.
Asked what would rank as more sketchy, he didn't hesitate to answer: “Most of East Colfax, hands down. Even at night, this is nothing like that."