Denver Protest Shooting Leaves One Dead, Security Guard in Custody, Police Say

Downtown Denver skyline, 2017 (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

One person was shot and killed in Denver on Saturday after opposing rallies between far-right and far-left groups turned violent, police said.

A local news station’s private security guard was in custody Saturday evening in connection with the shooting of a man who was a part of a pro-police “Patriot Rally” at Denver’s Civic Center Park, the Denver Post reported. 

The shooting happened just after 3:30 p.m. near the courtyard of the Denver Art Museum as the protests were coming to an end, officials said.

Denver police said on Twitter that they had one suspect in custody and were investigating the incident as a homicide, but did not announce any charges on Saturday.

Police added that “further investigation” determined that the suspect is a private security guard “with no affiliation with Antifa.”

Local Denver news station 9NEWS said the private security guard had been hired by the station to protect staff reporting on the rallies.

“The private security guard was contracted through Pinkerton by 9NEWS,” the news outlet wrote. “It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to hire private security to accompany staff at protests.”

A 9NEWS producer was also taken into custody, but has since been released.

Video of the incident appears to show one shot being fired, after which Denver police rush to secure the scene, treating the victim and arresting a suspect. 

“There was a verbal altercation that transpired. A firearm was discharged,” said Denver Police chief of investigations Joe Montoya. “An individual was shot and later pronounced deceased. There were two guns recovered at the scene.” 

According to the Denver Post, an altercation occurred after a man participating in the “Patriot Rally” sprayed mace at another man, who then allegedly responded by shooting the other individual with a handgun.

Police had maintained a large presence at the protests, citing the “potential for violence” between opposing sides.

“There was a large presence because we had two groups with opposing views, and we know that can always get very tense,” Montoya said. “There’s always potential for violence, we understand that. We had a large contingent there to try to watch the egress of one group, so that the other group wouldn’t intermingle with them, so that’s the reason for the large presence there.”

A member of the Denver Communists said the rally, named “Black Lives Matter Anti-Fascist Soup Drive” as a nod to President Trump’s comments that far-left protesters weaponize soup cans, was organized in response to a “Patriot Muster” that the group saw being advertised about a week ago, according to the New York Times.

Some of the groups attending were Denver Communists, Colorado Socialist Revolution, Anon Resistance Movement, W.I.T.C.H. Denver, H.O.E.S (Help on Every Street), and Front Range Mutual Aid Network, Fox News reported.

A representative for Denver Communists told local news outlet Westword, “We scheduled our action after learning that the militia-fascists had called a ‘patriot muster’ against the Black Lives Matter movement, anti-fascists and Marxists.”

“That’s us — guilty as charged and happy to oblige with our presence.”

Saturday’s events were not the first case of rising tensions between opposing groups taking a deadly turn: on August 29 an Antifa supporter allegedly shot and killed a man who was affiliated with a right-wing group during a clash in Portland, Oregon.

That same month, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse allegedly fatally shot two men while trying to protect local businesses from rioters and looters during protests of the police shooting of a Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.

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