Jul 27, 2022 - News

Denver community leader's death raises alarms about crime response

Illustrated collage of a person’s silhouette with an ambulance and caution tape.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A neighborhood leader's death by a stray bullet is focusing attention on crime rates in high-poverty, underserved areas of Denver.

Driving the news: The focus is East Colfax, one of the city's most diverse areas and among its crime hotspots.

  • The neighborhood has experienced four shooting deaths this year, the Denver Post reports.
  • At least three aggravated assaults involving firearms have occurred since July 10.

What's happening: Neighborhood leaders and city council member Amanda Sawyer will meet with local law enforcement officials Wednesday to demand accountability for their failure to keep the community safe.

Zoom in: On July 15, Ma Kaing — a community leader and board member of the East Colfax Neighborhood Association — was fatally struck by an errant bullet while unloading groceries in front of her apartment building after working at her family's restaurant.

  • Now her loved ones and the neighborhood are wondering why more wasn't done to stop violence in an area where community members have said they feel under siege.
  • Police received reports about shots fired in the area the night before, and the department said it increased patrols, but residents suggested it was too little too late.
  • In addition, questions are mounting about 911's response, after numerous calls were reportedly made but many were dropped or rerouted between Denver and Aurora police departments, delaying paramedic response time.

What they're saying: Neighbors fear for their safety and share their frustration with the police.

  • "It's dangerous," Levon Lylas, a friend of Kaing, told Fox31. "A lot of violence, gunshots, gang activity — but there are good people here too, and Ma was one of those people."
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