"Horrific Series of Crimes" Rocks Denver, Takes Student's Life

An aerial view of the scene of the shooting that killed Shmuel Silverberg late on August 17.
An aerial view of the scene of the shooting that killed Shmuel Silverberg late on August 17. CBS4
Update: Four suspects have been arrested and a fifth is the subject of a manhunt in regard to the August 17 crime spree that included the murder of student Shmuel Silverberg. Get details in our post "Samuel Fussell at Large, Four Arrests in Shmuel Silverberg Murder." Continue for our previous coverage.

Violent crimes have spiked
over the summer in downtown Denver and beyond. But a one-night crime spree comprising at least five separate offenses that culminated in the fatal shooting of eighteen-year-old Shmuel Silverberg near the Yeshiva Toras Chaim Talmudic Seminary of Denver, at 1555 Stuart Street, inspired Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen to use the strongest possible terms in calling for help from the general public to help collar the perpetrators.

During an August 18 press conference, Pazen called the actions "a horrific series of crimes" and noted, "We need everybody in our community to help us identify who these individuals are and bring them to justice as quickly as possible."

He also expressed his grief over the death of Silverberg, as well as the sixty — yes, sixty — other victims of homicide in Denver thus far in 2021.

After noting that investigators don't currently believe that Silverberg's slaying was a bias-motivated crime, but stressing that such charges will be pressed should evidence along those lines emerge, Pazen handed over the briefing to Major Crimes Division Commander Matt Clark, as seen in this video.
Clark offered a basic chronology of the events that preceded Silverberg's death. At approximately 10 p.m. on August 17, he said, department dispatchers received a report of individuals breaking into a vehicle in the parking lot of a business located on the 2700 block of West Alameda Avenue. A number of individuals witnessed this action, but when they approached the car, a 2020 blue Toyota Camry, the suspect allegedly pulled a handgun and pointed it in their direction. Seconds later, he and his comrades — Clark didn't offer a definitive number but estimated that around four people were involved — fled in the Camry.

Cut to around 10:50 p.m., when police were called to the intersection of East Colfax Avenue and Grape Street on a report of a carjacking. The driver had just parked a 2018 maroon Honda CRV and stepped into a business when the suspects pulled up in the stolen Camry. The driver saw the individuals attempting to get into the Honda and tried to stop them, only to be faced with a gun. Shortly thereafter, the suspects split in both the Camry and the CRV; the second victim wasn't injured, either.

Twenty minutes later, at 11:10 p.m., an adult male was walking in the area of Colfax and Lafayette Street when several men wearing masks rushed up, ordered him to the ground, and robbed him. During the crime, a round was fired and struck the victim, who was subsequently rushed to an area hospital. At last report, he was in critical condition.
click to enlarge The DPD released this graphic showing vehicles associated with the crime spree. - DENVER POLICE DEPARTMENT
The DPD released this graphic showing vehicles associated with the crime spree.
The suspects now headed westbound on Colfax — and at 11:35 p.m., they struck again near the Yeshiva seminary, where Silverberg was a student. Clark said Silverberg was apparently walking nearby when the suspects arrived. The DPD doesn't yet know if an interaction preceded the shooting, but Silverberg was struck and subsequently succumbed to his injuries.

That's not all. The DPD later learned about a burglary in Lakewood during which a 1998 gray Toyota RAV4 was stolen.

According to Clark, the department has already obtained multiple videos that captured crimes, including images from the city's HALO system, and is actively soliciting other footage from nearby businesses or homeowners. Witnesses have also been interviewed, but Clark didn't offer any suspect descriptions.

Pazen, for his part, stressed that the department has directed patrols to "focus on these events that have taken place in order to enhance security in our neighborhoods." He added: "We recognize how violent the activities that took place...were, and we cannot allow this to become status quo in our city."

Anyone with information about the crimes or suspects can contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867). The suspects are considered to be armed and dangerous.
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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