Sophia Maines, Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World, March 27, 2007
Trenton Foster’s spring break ended violently early Sunday with an armed robbery in a Denver light-rail station that left three friends with gunshot wounds.
Denver police say the incident involving Foster and his friends was the latest in what they think is a string of four violent robberies, with a total of six shooting victims, since Friday.
“Their descriptions are quite similar,” Denver police spokeswoman Virginia Quiñones said. She said all of the incidents, except for one, occurred between 5 a.m. and 5:20 a.m. and were in the same area.
The young men then walked back to the first station and managed to buy their tickets when they were approached by two men wearing ski masks, Foster said.
The suspects, one wielding scissors and the other pointing a revolver, demanded money, Foster said.
The men emptied their pockets, handing over wallets, cell phones and other items.
Foster and Hensley, a K-State student, both said they recalled a slight pause before one of the men began shooting.
“They didn’t say anything,” Hensley said. “It was just a look. There may have been a nod.”
The suspects were described as two black males in dark blue clothing and face masks.
“They were cool, calm and collected and knew exactly what they were doing,” Foster said of the suspects. “The worst part is we did everything they wanted.… We all had our hands in the air. None of us was going to make any attempts at them at all. They just shot them for the fun of it.”
[Editors Note: Note that in the following account from the New York Times there is no mention of the shooters’ race.]
A rash of seemingly random shootings last weekend has baffled the police here and added to the unease of a city that in recent months has experienced a series of unsolved violent crimes.
The same two men are believed to have shot six people in 48 hours starting March 23. The shootings included an attack on a group of college friends, most of whom had traveled from Kansas to see a concert.
“The men told them that this was a bad side of town and that they shouldn’t be there,” said David Hensley, whose 19-year-old son Dakota was one of seven friends robbed and attacked by the two men early Sunday. The group had left a concert in the historic Five Points neighborhood, a newly revitalized section of Denver where soul-food restaurants sit close to coffee shops and where colorfully renovated Victorian homes stand near subsidized housing complexes.
Mr. Hensley said the friends, mostly from Kansas State University and the University of Kansas, were at a light-rail station waiting to catch a downtown train when they were approached by the two men. The assailants, one brandishing a knife, the other a gun, demanded money, Mr. Hensley said his son told him. After the victims handed over their valuables, one of the robbers sprayed them with gunfire.
About 10 minutes later, Thilli Mathew, 26, was shot in the left leg after exchanging words with two men who had approached him on foot not far from where Mr. Bryant was shot, the police said.
Early Saturday morning, Jeff Prall, 35, was shot by two men while waiting for a cab on a corner near Colfax Avenue, a thoroughfare known for its lively nightlife. Mr. Prall, a Denver property manager, said the episode happened so quickly he had trouble recalling the details.
Mr. Prall said he was shot five times, including in the neck and back, and was recovering this week after being released from the hospital.
Denver has drawn attention recently for a number of other unsolved violent crimes, such as the slaying last month of Ken Gorman, a supplier of medical marijuana, and the killing of Darrent Williams, the Denver Broncos cornerback who was gunned down on New Year’s Day as he left a nightclub. The Rocky Mountain News reported Thursday that a grand jury was examining the possible involvement of the Crips street gang in Mr. Williams’s killing and a string of other unsolved homicides.
Nearly all the shootings last weekend took place in neighborhoods whose demographics are shifting, none more so than Five Points.
Once hailed as the Harlem of the West for its jazz scene, the historic black business enclave and its surroundings have given way to an influx of professionals, most of them white, and Hispanic immigrants.
“You hear about the frustration from the black people who have lived here for a long time. They can’t afford to move, they also can’t afford to fix up their homes,” said Diane Mourning, executive director of the nearby Curtis Park Community Center. “This is a neighborhood where you have very poor, desperate people living side by side with people who are upper middle class.”