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| Crime |

Jeremiah Barnum, convicted hate criminal, dead in officer-involved Walgreens shooting

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Yesterday, a member of the Englewood Police Department shot and killed a man outside a Walgreens store. And the dead man was notorious long before he breathed his last.

Jeremiah Barnum was at the center of what former Westword writer Jared Jacang Maher once described as "Denver's most famous hate-crime case."

According to the EPD, an officer spotted a stolen car near South Washington Street and East Bates Avenue at about 4:33 p.m. yesterday afternoon. This information was shared with plain-clothes detectives, who put the vehicle under surveillance.

The detectives watched as several subjects climbed into the car and drove to a Walgreens at 3080 South Broadway. There, the individuals in question were rounded up by patrol officers and taken to the police station.

Story over? Not quite. A pair of Englewood officers remained on the scene, and as one was finishing up impound-related paperwork, he eyeballed what's described as "a known associate of the earlier arrestees" sitting in a car parked in the Walgreens lot. The cops then approached the vehicle, at which point the driver -- Barnum -- reached for a weapon in his waistband while backing the car out so quickly that he nearly hit one of them.

That officer responded by opening fire, the department reveals -- and Barnum was struck in the process. After his car came to a halt, the cops removed him and rendered first aid, as did members of the Englewood Fire Department who responded shortly thereafter. But Barnum was later pronounced dead at Swedish Medical Center.

What was Barnum's previous claim to infamy? His name came up in our 2009 feature article about the hit-and-run death of Lilian Verdonkschot. Nadine Montoya was accused of having not only caused Verdonkschot's death but also committing a hate crime. That led to the following passage:

Critics say that hate-crime legislation is redundant, since laws already exist to prosecute the actual crime regardless of motive.... In Denver's most famous hate-crime case, the 1997 slaying of African immigrant Oumar Dia at a downtown bus stop, self-proclaimed white supremacist Nathan Thill called Dia a "nigger" and asked if he was ready to die. But even without a hate-crime charge, Thill would have been sentenced to life in prison. The law did effect Thill's buddy, Jeremiah Barnum. Though he didn't pull the trigger, Barnum was convicted of ethnic intimidation and first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1999 before a judge, citing tainted testimony, ordered a new trial. (Denver appealed that decision for several years, but in 2002 agreed to a plea deal that sent Barnum away for twelve years.)

As noted by the Denver Post, we don't yet know how long Barnum has been a free man. But his latest step into the spotlight won't lead to any sequels. Here's a larger look at his booking photo.

Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Nadine Montoya sentenced to life in prison plus extra 32 years for Burger King hit-and-run."

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