Five Arrests in Golf-Club Gang Attacks in Denver
DENVER (AP) _ The arrests of five suspected gang members appear to have abruptly stopped a wave of street attacks by golf club-swinging youths that terrorized a Denver neighborhood and left one woman beaten to death, police said Thursday.
No attacks have been reported since the arrests Tuesday and Wednesday nights, said Detective John Wyckoff.
No more arrests were expected, but police nonetheless will continue increased patrols in the neighborhood until they are satisfied the attacks have ceased, said Wyckoff.
Nightly for 11 days, residents of a densely populated, eclectic neighborhood near the state Capitol came under attack by youths wielding golf clubs, bricks, fists and knives.
The attacks began Jan. 24, with the level of violence worsening through the 16 assaults. The slaying Tuesday night near a neighborhood supermarket was the last attack.
On Wednesday, police formed a 70-officer task force to find the assailants and then raided an east Denver home, arresting three juvenile suspects.
The other suspects were arrested Tuesday night, shortly after the clubbing death of a woman identified Thursday as Harriet Lawyer-Duvallo, 53, who was killed as she pushed a cart loaded with groceries about five blocks from her apartment. Golf clubs were found in the trunk of a stolen car in which the two were seen leaving, police said.
Gerald Graham, 18, the only adult arrested, was being held for investigation of first-degree assault and was to be advised of his rights in Denver County Court on Friday.
The other four suspects were being held in a juvenile detention center, police said. One was held for investigation of auto theft, police said.
None was immediately charged in the woman’s death.
″We have until Monday to make a filing decision ... charges will probably be filed the first of next week,″ said Assistant District Attorney Chuck Lepley.
Police retreated from initial comments that the suspects belonged to a notorious street gang called the ″Rollin 30 Crips,″ which gained its name by crippling victims by beating them with canes and sticks.
″As far as what gang they belong to, I don’t know at this point in time. It is our information that they participate in an organized gang,″ said Wyckoff.
Leon Kelly, a minister who directs the Salvation Army Red Shield Community Center in east Denver, said he thought the suspects were hangers-on rather than part of the original Denver gang.
″All the permanent Crips have said they’re not ‘Crippin’ no more. Everybody knew the Crips were chilling (not active),″ Kelly said.
The new gang is a group of three to six teen-agers who hung around with Crips members last summer, Kelly said. He said the suspects called themselves the Crips because they know the name will ″cause a sense of terror.″
Meanwhile, police Thursday were still trying to identify the slain woman, who was beaten to death as she pushed a cart loaded with groceries. A wooden club was found near the body, police said.
″All I know is here is a woman between 45 and 55 years old, with gray to brown hair and brown eyes. And that’s about all we know about her right now. She had a buggy full of groceries. That’s not typical of a bag person. But there again, it is really hard to say who or what she is,″ Wyckoff said.
Wyckoff said the big break in the case came a short time after the murder, when police arrested Graham and the juvenile, seizing the stolen car thought to be linked to the murder and assaults.
The golf clubs in the stolen car provided weapons ″of opportunity,″ Wyckoff said. The youths ″apparently stole a car and it happened to have some golf clubs in it,″ he said.
Police were performing laboratory tests on the golf clubs and also on a pink, blood-stained garment dropped in a trash bin by the three suspects arrested Wednesday night, Wyckoff said.