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| Crime |

Recalling 33 Colorado Gun Violence Victims From Bloody Start of 2021

Phoenix Vigil and Shumma Agar are among the Coloradans lost to gun violence during the first two months of 2021.EXPAND
Phoenix Vigil and Shumma Agar are among the Coloradans lost to gun violence during the first two months of 2021.
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The volume of gun violence in Colorado during the first months of 2021 has risen to a level not seen in years. According to the Gun Memorial website, which offers a space to remember victims in Colorado and across the country under the philosophy "Real people, not just statistics," 33 Coloradans were killed by a firearm during January and February, the most by far for that period since the site's birth in 2015.

And there's no indication the bloodshed will stop anytime soon. Late on March 3, the Aurora Police Department reveals that a thus-far-unidentified man was fatally shot in the parking lot of a condominium complex on the 12000 block of East Harvard Avenue in the southwest part of the city.

In 2018, Westword profiled Gun Memorial, which had been launched three years earlier by Steve Tarzia, a software engineer based in Chicago. Early on, he decided to include information about every gun death, including homicides, tragic accidents and suicide. "The statistics are quite clear that suicides are much more effective — you're much more likely to die — if you have a gun," he told us. "Shots to the head are 98 percent fatal, whereas if you try to overdose, there may only be a 5 or 10 percent chance that you'll kill yourself. And suicidal thoughts are often temporary and may be related to events. To get a second chance may often mean the difference between life and death, but there aren't many second chances with guns."

The Colorado page of the Gun Memorial site underscores the sad reality that most gun deaths receive modest and frequently cursory media attention. Only a few of the cases have been covered in detail, often owing to the circumstances of crimes involved. For instance, Ricardo Medina-Rojas was working at a Lafayette nursing home when he was killed by 95-year-old Okey Payne, perhaps the oldest Coloradan to be charged with murder. And the death of Pamela Cabriales after a February 20 shooting made headlines because the fourteen-year-old who allegedly shot the young mother in her vehicle may be charged as an adult.

Clockwise from upper left: Leah Carlene Knowlton, Joseph Viera, John Richard Roth, Sylvio Anglada, Tashianna Blake and Nathan A-Kol Bright all died by gun during early 2021.EXPAND
Clockwise from upper left: Leah Carlene Knowlton, Joseph Viera, John Richard Roth, Sylvio Anglada, Tashianna Blake and Nathan A-Kol Bright all died by gun during early 2021.

Most of the other faces on the Colorado portion of the site will be unfamiliar to the vast majority of Denver residents. But the mosaic collectively displays who's most likely to die by gun: The overwhelming majority are people of color, many of them young.

To put the death count for the first two months of 2021 in perspective, here are the number of Colorado victims counted by Gun Memorial during the same period for each year since its creation:

January-February 2015: 8
January-February 2016: 10
January-February 2017: 23
January-February 2018: 22
January-February 2019: 13
January-February 2020: 19

The names of the 33 Colorado victims from January and February are listed below in descending chronological order, along with links to their Gun Memorial pages. There, visitors will be able to connect to (frequently brief) news articles about what happened, light virtual candles in memory of victims and read the comments of friends, family members and loved ones, as well as leave remarks of their own.

Margie Crowe
February 27

Roxann Martinez
February 25

Nathan A-Kol Bright
February 22

Tad Trefethen
February 21

Thomas James Rushing
February 21

Jared Augustine Martinez
February 20

Pamela Cabriales
February 20

Tashianna Blake
February 20

Cesar Alberto Rodriguez
February 10

Shumma Agar
February 10

James Martinez
February 8

Yzeed Sayyaheen
February 6

John Richard Roth
February 5

Dustyn James
February 3

Joseph Viera
February 3

Christopher Patrick Lopez
February 3

Pheonix Vigil
February 3

Clockwise from upper left: More lives lost in early 2021 include Paul Baca, Preston Brown Jr., Suni Marie Grooms, Ricardo Medina-Rojas, Marcos Bencomo and Yzeed Sayyaheen.EXPAND
Clockwise from upper left: More lives lost in early 2021 include Paul Baca, Preston Brown Jr., Suni Marie Grooms, Ricardo Medina-Rojas, Marcos Bencomo and Yzeed Sayyaheen.

Ricardo Medina-Rojas
February 3

Sylvio Anglada
February 3

Ronald Harman
January 31

Brian Connelly
January 30

Lewis Nicholas Garcia
January 27

Geronimo Alvarado
January 26

La'Zic Lavell "Zay" Abraham
January 26

Chase Carter Martinez
January 23

Jameson Martinez
January 23

Paul Baca
January 22

Preston Brown Jr.
January 22

Marcos Bencomo
January 21

Leah Carlene Knowlton
January 20

Imanol Del Valle
January 17

Atlas Roe Grooms
January 13

Suni Marie Grooms
January 13

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