Editor's note and update: This is the first in a three-part series looking at violence on the 16th Street Mall. Since part one's original publication, we've received images from the crime scene by photographer Patrick Hart. We've added them to the bottom of this post.
This past Saturday night, Erin Chalmers visited the 16th Street Mall with her sister to check out the attendees of some special events in the area.
"It was Comic Con and PrideFest and the Greek Festival," Chalmers says. "We wanted to have a long dinner and watch people go by."
But things worked out differently from the way Chalmers imagined. By night's end, she was trying desperately to prevent a victim from bleeding out before emergency personnel could arrive following the latest stabbing on the mall.
We've reported about multiple stabbings in the area over the past few months — incidents that have raised concerns about the safety of the iconic Denver tourist attraction. And Chalmers's angle on the latest crime, which resulted in the arrest of two people (including Gregory Lecorps, the man for whom she cared), isn't likely to turn up in any tourist brochures.
"We got to the mall about seven o'clock" on June 18, notes Chalmers, who lives in Arvada, "and tensions were really high. There were different groups yelling at each other. A group of kids were fighting over something we couldn't quite figure out. They weren't any of the kids involved in the stabbing, but it was a strange vibe."
These activities didn't cause Chalmers and her sister to flee. They eventually headed to Marlowe's, an eatery and watering hole at 16th and Glenarm, and dined while seated in the patio section.
"From there, you can see the Denver Pavilions and the stairs that come down the top level," she recalls. "And we saw someone get shoved down the stairs, and we saw the cops come while we were eating."
This incident merely set the stage for what followed.
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"We got done with dinner around 10:30 and were walking back to the car," she notes. "We were close to 16th and California when we looked down at the ground and saw blood. So we followed the blood trail and saw two kids. They were white kids who looked homeless, like transients. They had dreadlocks, and one of them had taken off his T-shirt and tried to put it around the neck of an African-American kid who was bleeding. He was trying to use it as a tourniquet."
The African-American — later identified as Lecorps — was "covered with blood," Chalmers continues. "I went over to him and said, 'You need to lay still' while several people were calling 911 — and they were on hold for five to ten minutes.
"After they finally answered, the first motorcycle cop showed up, and as soon as he did, the African-American kid's friends took off running. So I took over with the T-shirt, holding pressure on the wound until the ambulance, the EMTs, got there. It took them another three to four minutes, so this kid was laying there bleeding for fifteen or twenty minutes. He told me his name was Gregors.
"When the paramedics come in, they push bystanders out of the way, and as they were doing that to me, this kid had just drifted out of consciousness. And then they took him away."
Also on the scene was a news crew from Fox31/CW2, but upon her return home that evening, Chalmers couldn't find any coverage. The stations' report was eventually folded into a piece about multiple acts of violence in Denver over the weekend; it's on view below.
For her part, Chalmers was concerned about Gregors's condition. "I didn't know if he was dead or alive," she says.
Fortunately, Lecorps survived — and was soon well enough to be booked on suspicion of first-degree assault along with Damian Dominguez, whose photo, also shared here, fits the description Chalmers offers of the friends who fled upon the arrival of the police officer.
Denver Police Department spokeswoman Raquel Lopez didn't have any information about Chalmers's estimate of a five-to-ten-minute delay before anyone answered 911 calls from the scene, but she stresses that officers were at the scene quickly. According to her, the first report came in to DPD dispatch at 10:43 p.m., and police arrived at 10:46 p.m.
She describes the incident as follows: "At 16th and California, three parties that were walking down the mall saw a female being harassed by a male. They intervened, and that's when the altercation occurred. Our officers took two suspects into custody and three parties were transported to the hospital. That would include two of the victims and one of the suspects" — Lecorps.
The episode left a negative impression on Chalmers when it comes to the 16th Street Mall's relative safety.
"I've probably been down to the mall five or six times over probably the last five to six years, and each time, it's been progressively worse," she says. "It's definitely gotten rough, and on Saturday night, everyone was very, very tense. I had no idea it had gotten that bad."
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Look below to see a Fox31 report about weekend violence that incorporates coverage about the incident, followed by full-sized mug shots for Lecorps and Dominguez, as well as (update) crime-scene images by photographer Patrick Hart.