Crime

Killer Clown Display on Same Block as Killer Clown Murder

A photo of a killer clown display at the 10th and Broadway Spirit outlet and a photo of Christian Gulzow in full makeup.
A photo of a killer clown display at the 10th and Broadway Spirit outlet and a photo of Christian Gulzow in full makeup. Michael Roberts/File photo
In most parts of Denver, a killer clown display outside a costume store in the weeks before Halloween wouldn't seem strange. But the one decorating the Spirit outlet at 10th and Broadway happens to be on the same block where a man wearing clown-like makeup committed a shocking murder just over a year ago.

Indeed, the parking lot of Torchy's Tacos, at 1085 Broadway, where Christian Gulzow fatally stabbed Brian Lucero last May is clearly visible from the old Gart Sports Palace, where Spirit has taken up temporary occupancy.

Gifted local photographer Kevin Beaty is the first to have noted the proximity of the Spirit image to the crime scene. On Tuesday, October 22, he tweeted, "Is anyone else bothered that there's a murderclown costume plastered on Broadway ON THE SAME BLOCK AN ACTUAL MURDERCLOWN KILLED SOMEONE?"

According to the probable-cause statement in the May 23, 2017, slaying, Gulzow's face was covered in white clown-like makeup and he wore blade-supplemented gloves that recalled those associated with fictional ghoul Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street horror-film series.


click to enlarge The full-size clown costume display. - MICHAEL ROBERTS
The full-size clown costume display.
Michael Roberts
Denver police maintained that Gulzow threatened Lucero near the Corner Store at 1001 Broadway, directly across the street from the Spirit store, during the wee hours of the 23rd. Attempted punches were exchanged before Lucero headed north up the alley behind the convenience outlet. Gulzow allegedly followed him to the Torchy's parking lot, where other witnesses saw Lucero collapse.

A search of recordings captured by nearby HALO cameras provided the next lead. Video showed a man matching Gulzow's description riding a scooter on the 900 block of Galapago and tossing an object into the bushes. That object turned out to be a knife covered in blood.

Also bloody was the clothing worn by Gulzow when he was taken into custody near the intersection of Alameda and Lipan. During a subsequent interrogation, Gulzow was quoted as saying that Lucero had tried to steal his scooter, leading to a physical altercation and a hard fall. He speculated that Lucero had been hurt when he'd jabbed a glove in his direction — or perhaps he landed on a spike from his wrist bracelet.

Investigators didn't buy this explanation, and shortly thereafter, Gulzow, who boasted a criminal record going back to the year 2000 and had been jailed as recently as 2012 on an assault beef, was arrested and later charged with first-degree murder.

click to enlarge A sign on the front door of the Spirit store at Tenth and Broadway. - MICHAEL ROBERTS
A sign on the front door of the Spirit store at Tenth and Broadway.
Michael Roberts
Gulzow, a wannabe death-metal musician, was found guilty of second-degree murder this past June, and in August, he was sentenced to 42 years in prison.

Yesterday, we visited the Spirit store, which is also steps away from Westword's offices, and asked the main clerk if anyone else had mentioned the Gulzow killing in the context of the costume advertisement.

Her eyes widened in surprise as she shook her head no.

Nonetheless, it's clear that Spirit staffers are well aware of current lawbreaking in the Golden Triangle neighborhood. A sign on the front door, as seen in the photo above, reads, "Sorry! Due to our location and recent crime in the area, we now close at 9 p.m."
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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