Gang-related deaths are on the rise in Denver

Six young men. That's how many have lost their lives in gang-related murders this year between January and May, according to the Denver Police Department. Though there's been much speculation that 21-year-old Rollin Oliver, who was arrested in connection with the murder of Denver police officer Celena Hollis on June 24, was a gang member, the police department and Mayor Michael Hancock have been hesitant to confirm that.

Here's a rundown of the six confirmed gang-related murders of 2012:

On Valentine's Day, 19-year-old Serril Allen was shot in the chest in northeast Park Hill, near East 36th Avenue and Hudson Street. He was taken to Denver Health, where he died shortly thereafter. The police have not arrested anyone for the murder, though Chief of Police Robert White said at a recent community meeting in Five Points that the police "have good information on the majority of gang-related homicides."

On March 19, 18-year-old De'Quan Walker-Smith was gunned down near Manual High School in the Whittier neighborhood. At a vigil for the dead teen, his family lamented gang activity in the area. Two people, 20-year-old Mannie Legrand and 18-year-old Quinasia Russell, have been arrested in connection with the murder.

A few days later, on March 23, another 18-year-old, Isaiah Garcia, answered his apartment door in Sun Valley just after 1:30 a.m. and was fatally shot in the neck in front of his friends, family and girlfriend, with whom he had a young son. Garcia's family told the media he was just out of jail on a juvenile probation violation and ready to change his ways. The police have not arrested anyone for Garcia's murder.

On May 9, four people were shot in Montbello. Three were injured, but 24-year-old James Dishmon died as a result. He was shot near East 55th Avenue and Wheeling Street, while the others were shot near East 51st Avenue and Uvalda Street. The police have not made an arrest in connection with Dishmon's murder.

And on the afternoon of May 25, four men were shot in broad daylight near the corner of East Bruce Randolph Avenue and York Street. Two of them — 21-year-old Justin O'Donnell and 30-year-old Deon Rudd — were pronounced dead at the scene. Marquise Davis, 23, and Denzel Richardson, 20, have been arrested and charged with murder.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar