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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

member of the Crips street gang fired a bullet that narrowly missed an RTD bus passenger after a brawl broke out on an eastbound Route 44 bus

08:33 |

Gang violence didn't soar with the heat this summer the way it did in 1993's "summer of violence," but a June shooting incident on an RTD bus is a clear indication that gangs remain a problem.

On June 25, a member of the Crips street gang fired a bullet that narrowly missed an RTD bus passenger after a brawl broke out on an eastbound Route 44 bus about 10:15 p.m., police said.

No one was hurt in the incident and police arrested the suspected shooter and two others after they boarded a westbound Route 43 bus.

About a dozen people, including those involved in the fracas, were on the first bus when Jammal Hopkins, 23, allegedly fired a shot from a pistol that went through the windshield, said RTD spokesman Scott Reed. It was the first time he knows of that someone fired a gun on an RTD bus or rail line.

"That is pretty brazen when you start seeing violence like that. That is a disregard for anybody," said Sgt. John Bronson, who was among police who arrested Hopkins and two others.

A police report of the incident describes Hopkins and those who boarded the bus with him as known Crips who were fighting with "possible Blood gang members."

"Initially the altercation was verbal and then escalated to a physical one where the unknown victim was assaulted and then a suspect attempted to shoot the victim in the head," according to a second police report.

Arrested were Hopkins, Tevon Dwayne Thomas, 19, and Julis Robinson, 30. The Denver gang unit works with the community as part of the Gang Reduction Initiative of Denver to tamp down gang violence, said Regina Huerter, executive director of the Crime Prevention and Control Commission. The effort is going well, she added.

But "there is always going to be ongoing conflict between different groups. Certain things may flare up but I can't say things have gotten worse."

Gangs also continue to be an issue in nearby Aurora, said Aurora police spokesman Bob Friel. There were 25 gang-motivated crimes in 2010, up from the 17 reported in 2009. However, incidents of gang-motivated crimes were down from the 40 reported in 2008, and 46 reported in 2007.

Gang-related aggravated assaults in 2010 accounted for 14 percent of total aggravated assaults, he said. Gang-related incidents are those that involve any gang members. Gang-motivated incidents are those committed by known or suspected gang members to further the intentions of the gang.

"It's important to understand that gang crime is just a small slice of the total crimes we investigate," Friel said.

Of 1,581 gang members tracked in 2010 by Aurora police, a significant number reside outside Aurora, and some outside the state, Friel said. Many are from Denver or elsewhere in the metro area.

With so many gang members, it isn't surprising that shots would be fired on a bus, said Leon Kelly of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives. "Some of these guys can't drive legally and they use public transit, and some of them go strapped."

Gangs linked to June shooting on RTD bus in Denver

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