May 24, 2022 - News

Denver braces for a violent summer

Denver police officers gather around a cruiser behind yellow police tape after a shooting on Broadway near downtown Denver.
Police investigate a shooting near Broadway and 5th in Denver, Colorado on Friday, May 6. Photo: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The city could be in store for a crime-ridden summer, according to local leaders and youth violence prevention advocates.

Threat level: "We are already at summer-level violence right now," Jason McBride at the Struggle of Love Foundation, which focuses on youth violence prevention, tells Axios Denver.

Driving the news: Denver police investigated three separate shootings over a 24-hour period starting Sunday that left six people injured.

  • Two men were hurt during a shooting in Civic Center on Sunday morning.
  • Two men and one woman were injured in a shooting on Lawrence Street in Five Points early Monday morning. Police told Axios Denver an initial investigation indicated a dispute escalated into gun violence.
  • One person was wounded in a shooting in Barnum on Monday morning.

In Aurora, three people were injured in a shooting at an apartment parking lot near the Denver city limits on Sunday.

  • In a separate Aurora incident, a woman took herself to the hospital just before 1am Monday after being shot in the shoulder.

What they're saying: Mayor Michael Hancock told Axios Denver that increased violence during the summer months is always a concern, but it's especially worrisome with increasing gun violence among young people.

  • "The reality is we can protect our children, we just have to make a personal and diligent effort to do so."

Keeping kids busy and monitoring their social media are two things Hancock encourages.

  • While off school for summer break, he's hoping more children and teenagers visit the city's rec centers, including outdoor pools, many of which have spent recent summers shuttered by the pandemic.
  • Local faith leaders also expressed interest in hosting young people for counseling.

Zoom in: At the Struggle of Love Foundation, one of the community organization's Hancock highlighted that aims to help young people, McBride says he's often asked about spiking summer violence — but his fears are stronger this year.

  • "We are going to struggle with keeping kids safe," he said.
  • He's concerned about its impacts on BIPOC communities, which he believes are disproportionately affected by gun violence and don't always have resources to reduce violence.
  • A 2019 report from Denver Health found an average 700 young people ages 25 or younger are directly affected by gun violence every year in Denver.

McBride suggested that part-time summer jobs can help youth steer clear of violent situations.

  • Struggle of Love will be hiring teens to work for their food bank, an ice cream shop and a summer camp.
  • However, McBride said he expects some teens to be competing with adults for other summer gigs in the metro area.
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