The man shot and killed by police outside a Walgreens on Thursday night was an accessory to a high-profile, racially motivated murder in 1997.7NEWS has confirmed that the man officers killed was Jeremiah Barnum.Jeremiah Barnum was initially convicted of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in the 1997 shooting death of immigrant Oumar Dia and shooting of Good Samaritan Jeannie VanVelkinburgh at a bus stop in Denver.After appeals, Barnum accepted a plea bargain of accessory after the fact.
2 Arrested Before Shooting Knew Barnum
As of 9:20 p.m. Friday night, Englewood Police would still not reveal the identities of the two people arrested prior to the shooting. Police would only say they were acquaintances of Barnum.Since the two arrested are in the Arapahoe County jail, it's the public's right to know who they are. 7NEWS found out they are 49-year-old Steven Lee Ezell abd 27-year-old Allison Leigh Hein. They were arrested after police suspected them of being in a stolen yellow Mustang in the Walgreens parking lot.In his mug shot, Ezell's right eye was black and swollen shut. Englewood Police would not reveal if he had the black eye before the arrest or if it occurred as part of the arrest.
Bus Stop Shooting In '97 Stunned City
The shooting of a black man and a white woman stunned the city in 1997 because it was committed by self-professed skinheads. The victims were simply waiting for a bus in downtown Denver.Dia was from Senegal. He worked as a housekeeper at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and was sending money home to his family. He was married and had three children."We lost a best friend," said Oumar's friend Yaya Ly. "We lost a man that we really know was not problem. He was a very nice person."Witnesses said Dia was sitting at a bus stop near 17th and Welton streets when two men started harassing him.The men threw Dia's hat into the street, then they shot and killed him."I'd seen the black guy at the bus stop and I kind of just thought to myself how he really didn't belong where he was at and I thought how easy it would for me to just take him out right there," triggerman Nathan Thill confessed to 7NEWS in 1997.When a woman at the bus stop -- VanVelkinburgh -- tried to stop the confrontation, she was shot too.VanVelkinburgh was paralyzed."My thoughts at the time was that I had a witness that had to be taken care of," Thill told 7NEWS.VanVelkinburgh said after the shooting that if she had to do it over, she would intervene again."I was trying to help someone who needed help and didn't have any idea I would end up in this situation," said VanVelkinburgh. "But I would do it again if I thought there was a chance that I could save someone's life."VanVelkinburgh died two months after Barnum accepted a plea bargain in 2002.
Thill, Barnum Sentenced For Murder
Thill was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the shooting.A Denver jury convicted Barnum of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, assault, and ethnic intimidation in 1999. Jurors said even though Barnum didn't shoot the victims, he was with Thill every step of the way.Barnum appealed. A second judge granted Barnum's motion for a new trial.The Supreme Court later upheld decisions by the Colorado Court of Appeals and a district judge to grant Barnum a new trial based on the improper admission of a videotaped confession by Thill.But instead of pursuing another trial, the district attorney's office agreed to a plea bargain in 2002, in consideration for the surviving victim, VanVelkinburgh, the trauma of another trial, and the status of the evidence after 4 1/2 years.Under the plea agreement, Barnum was sentenced to the maximum the law allows: 12 years in prison.With credit for time served, Barnum was released in May 2009.He violated parole three times and was sent back to prison in May 2011, according to prison officials.They said he was released on Nov. 30, 2011.
Englewood Police Shoot Jeremiah Barnum Just Outside Walgreens
Englewood police shot Barnum in a Walgreens parking lot on South Broadway Thursday night.
Police had been following a car that was reported stolen at about 4:30 p.m. when it pulled into the parking lot near Broadway and Dartmouth, according to Englewood police spokesman Brad Johnson. Police made contact with the two people in the car and arrested them.Later, police spotted a third individual -- Barnum -- whom they believed was an associate of the two people arrested in the same parking lot. Police attempted to talk to the man as he was sitting in a white Ford Mustang, Johnson said."When the officers were close enough to observe the interior of the car the male driver reached for a weapon in his waistband; the driver began backing the car and nearly hit the officer who was on the drivers side of the suspect vehicle," Johnson said. "The officer on the drivers side fired his duty weapon several times into the car striking the suspect."Johnson said the man continued pulling the weapon and the officer shot him.A witness told 7NEWS that "it happened so quick." He said the shots were in rapid sequence like "pow, pow, pow, pow."Barnum was hit and was taken to nearby Swedish Hospital where he died a short time later.Johnson said police found a weapon in the car and believe it was the gun the man was pulling from his waistband.
Barnum Lived Nearby
7NEWS learned Barnum lived just a few blocks from the Walgreens with his girlfriend and her 9-year-old daughter.Neighbors, who didn't want to be identified, said when they saw the pictures of the cars on the news they knew Barnum was involved."We knew the car. We recognized the white Mustang convertible and the yellow Mustang," neighbors said.According to neighbors, the white Mustang belonged to Barnum's girlfriend, but the yellow Mustang showed up in Barnum's driveway a few months ago.The couple, they say, mostly kept to themselves, except for the stream of cars and people seen coming and going from the home."Lots of people in and out at all times of the day, lots of vehicles," said one neighbor.
Community Helped Dia's Family
After the murder, donors in Colorado gave more than $100,000 to help Dia's family and his native village in Senegal.Part of the money paid for two solar panels for Dia's family. The panels provided enough power to use four fluorescent lights for up to four hours each night.