One Dead, Seven Wounded After Violence Erupts At Denver Expo
Denver police and emergency paramedics responded to calls at a motorcycle exposition on Saturday afternoon when rival motorcycle “clubs” became involved in a battle at the Denver Coliseum.
At 6 p.m. (Mountain Time), Denver Police Chief Robert White announced that one person had died, three are in critical condition and another three are being treated for minor injuries.
Just a week after the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo wrapped up its 110th year with nearly 700,000 visitors to the annual three-week family-friendly event, the same venue was rocked with violence as multiple shootings and stabbings at an annual motorcycle expo drew police to the Denver Coliseum.
The second day of the 38th Annual Colorado Motorcycle Expo has been cancelled, although police allowed the event to resume and attendees who were already in the building afternoon were allowed to remain despite pools of blood on the floor of the venue.
“Everyone is so desensitized,” said one witness, pointing to an area where people walked over the dried blood.
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Police Spokeswoman Sonny Jackson said the emergency calls came in just after 1 p.m. as reports of gunfire came in, with the injured being treated at the central receiving hospital of the city, Denver Health Medical Center, six miles away, which went on lockdown status when the injured were admitted to ensure the safety of all the patients, medical staff and visitors.
The hospital was named the best trauma center in the United States in 2008 and ER doctor, Kevin McVaney, said the hospital was “well prepared for this number of trauma patients.”
According to a source requesting anonymity for fear of retribution, the dispute arose between rival motorcycle gangs, but Bob Cook, the owner of a leather goods company who was manning a display booth at the Expo said he didn’t hear any commotion prior to when the shots were fired.
Another witness says she saw “about 50 men brawling on stairs” that are now cordoned off with police tape.
Chief White said no arrests have been made, one person has been detained for questioning and is being termed “a person of interest,” although he added that police “strong suspect there’s more than one shooter involved.
Photographs published in the area’s only newspaper, The Denver Post, showed a large white man wearing baggy jeans, a black sweatshirt and a black vest being led away from the scene in handcuffs by a several officers while a small group of onlookers watched.
In another photograph, members of the Iron Order motorcycle gang are seen, while an anonymous source said the other gang was The Mongols.
The Iron Order has a website with a FAQ page that claims it is an international club, not a gang, that follows the traditions of 1950s and 1960s motorcycle clubs, does not allow marijuana use, despite it being legal in Colorado, and participates in annual Christmas parades distributing gifts to needy neighborhood children.