One person was shot and killed, and a local news station’s private security guard is in custody after protests between opposing groups turned violent in Denver’s Civic Center Park Saturday, the Denver Police Department said.
Denver Police tweeted that “further investigation has determined the suspect is a private security guard with no affiliation with Antifa.”
9NEWS, a local Denver news station, reported Saturday night that the suspect currently in DPD’s custody is a private security guard they hired.
“A private security guard who was hired by 9NEWS is the suspect detained by DPD,” 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 also was initially in custody, but has since been released.
Video of the incident shows one shot being fired. Denver Police then quickly cordon off the scene, giving medical aid to the victim and arresting a suspect.
“There was a verbal altercation that transpired. A firearm was discharged,” Denver Police Chief of Investigations Joe Montoya said Saturday. “An individual was shot and later pronounced deceased. There were two guns recovered at the scene.”
The Denver Post reports that the man who was shot was part of a pro-police “Patriot Rally.”
“The incident occurred after a man participating in what was billed a ‘Patriot Rally’ sprayed mace at another man. That man then shot the other individual with a handgun near the courtyard outside the Denver Art Museum,” the newspaper reports.
The Denver Police Department currently has one suspect in custody and is investigating the incident as a homicide.
Police had a large presence at the protests to keep opposing protesters calm.
“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.”
One side of the protests was characterized as a “Black Lives Matter Anti-Fascist Soup Drive” on Facebook. 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.
Local news outlet Westword reported that on the other side, pro-police groups organized a “Patriot Muster.”
“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,” a representative for Denver Communists told Westword. “That’s us — guilty as charged and happy to oblige with our presence.”