DENVER — Ten people were injured Sunday after a gunman apparently opened fire on a family gathering in a small park south of downtown.
Denver police asked for the public’s help in identifying the shooter. Investigators said it appeared the drive-by shooting was unconnected to the family gathering and occurred shortly before 5 p.m. None of the victims appeared to have suffered life-threatening injuries, police said.
“They are considered victims and we are working in that direction,” said Denver police spokesman Tyrone Campbell. “It sounds like it was just a family gathering.”
Campbell said nine people were injured in the shooting, and a 10th person was hit by a vehicle while running from the shooting. Campbell said some of the victims are “young” but declined to give more specifics. He said six shooting victims were taken to the hospital by ambulance, and three were taken by private vehicle.
The Byers and Pecos Park where the shooting occurred is a small neighborhood park with a small play structure, tucked in a residential neighborhood on the west side of Interstate 25, south of the city’s downtown.
Like many cities across the country, Denver is suffering a wave of gun violence, and 38 people have died in homicides through the end of June, putting the city on track to have one of its deadliest years in at least a decade. The city saw 26 homicides last year in the same period, according to Denver police statistics.
“This is unacceptable,” Campbell said, urging anyone with information to call Denver police. “Right now, we just need help.”
While nationwide Black Lives Matter protests have focused on police violence against Black people, there’s also been a wave of gun violence across the country plaguing many Black and minority communities.
Although mass shootings in which four or more people are killed are down sharply this year, other non-suicidal gun deaths are on pace to exceed last year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. While the spike likely has many drivers, public health experts say the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic fallout, political divisions in a presidential election year, and the conflicts that erupted nationwide following the Memorial Day death of George Floyd have likely all played a role.
“There’s something going on at the moment, these underlying tensions,” said James Densley, professor of law enforcement and criminal justice at Chicago’s Metropolitan State University. “Everyone’s been cooped up for so long with the pandemic, and then we had this sort of explosion of anger and grief after George Floyd’s killing.”
Responding to the violence, President Donald Trump has deployed federal agents to several U.S. cities under the auspices of Operation LeGend, named for LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old who was shot and killed while sleeping in Kansas City in late June.
Trump said more than 300 people were shot in New York City alone in June, and 414 people have been murdered in Chicago in 2020, with about 2,000 Chicagoans shot so far this year.
In announcing the deployments, which include Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee, Trump tied the wave of violence to the Black Lives Matter protests and efforts to defund police agencies and divert their funding into alternative approaches.
“This rampage of violence shocks the conscience of our nation, and we will not stand by and watch it happen,” Trump said. “Can’t do that.”
Contributing: Associated Press