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Denver police officer shot, killed at jazz concert

Posted at 6:49 AM, Jun 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-25 06:49:17-04

by Will C. Holden

DENVER (KDVR) — A veteran Denver police officer and single mother was shot and killed trying to break up an altercation in City Park Sunday night.

Hundreds were in the park attending the kickoff event for the popular City Park Jazz festival when a fight broke out between two groups at approximately 8:07 p.m. Denver police officers were attempting to break up the fight when shots were fired.

The female officer was shot in the head and rushed to Denver Health. She died from her injuries shortly after arrival.

FOX31 learned the name of the slain officer, but will wait to release that information at the request of the DPD because all members of her family had not yet been notified Sunday night. FOX31 can confirm the officer was 32 years old and had moved to Denver from Detroit. She also was a board member of a prestigious police officer’s association.

Speaking at a press conference from the hospital, Denver Police Chief Robert White said one individual was in custody Sunday night, though he or she may or may not be connected with the murder. The individual was being held on a weapons-related charge. White said he hopes to know “one way or the other” whether the individual was involved in the murder by Monday morning.

When pressed for additional information, White said, “We don’t know the particulars at this time.”

“She was out there doing her job,” a succinctly-spoken White said of the fallen officer.

As an expansive investigation continued Sunday night, Jesse Sullivan, who lives in an Arvada neighborhood at 88th and Wadsworth nearly 14 miles northwest of City Park, said police informed her to stay indoors due to a search for suspects. Derik Gavida said the intersection at Leetsdale and Quebec in Denver — nearly five miles southeast of the park — had been closed by police for the same reason.

The majority of DPD officers on-duty — and some who weren’t — were called to the scene. Many were involved in a search for weapons that included a portion of the Elephant Passage exhibit at the Denver Zoo.

Alongside White, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock spoke at the press conference saying he personally knew the police officer who was murdered.

“She was a very dedicated officer and a tremendous leader,” Hancock said. “This is a great loss for our city and a senseless crime. This was a single mother with a beautiful child.

“We will put our arms around this child and this family and make sure they know there’s a city who absolutely loves them.”

Hancock continued to speak about his own family, saying his wife and daughter were at the jazz event at City Park. His wife was performing in the festival — the evening was a tribute to long-time Denver Symphony Orchestra bassist Charlie Burrell. Hancock’s daughter was there as a spectator.

“This is a great event,” Hancock said. “By no certain terms will we allow for a few to tarnish a special event in this city that occurs every year.”