Members of the Crips gang armed with Molotov cocktails set the Holly Square Shopping Center ablaze because it was a known hangout for a rival gang, the Denver District Attorney's Office announced Friday morning.
The fire on May 18 destroyed several buildings in the strip mall at 3465 Holly St.
Eight of the people responsible for the arson are in custody, but one remains on the run, said District Attorney Mitch Morrissey. The seven men and two women were identified as David Tinsley, Deangelo Calaway, Jimmy Hopkins, Mario Jennings, Marquise Jones, Antwan McCoy, Mitchell Walker, Corsia Crosby and Katsina Roybal. Walker is still at large. (See images of suspects.
Morrissey said the suspects decided to set fire to the Holly Square Shopping Center after a night at the Bash Nightclub, when they had a confrontation with members of the Bloods, a rival street gang. The suspects targeted Holly Square because it was a known Bloods hangout, Morrissey said.
On the night of May 17, the suspects went to 7-Eleven convenience store at 35th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard and bought glass bottle drinks, prosecutors said. They poured gasoline in the bottles, set it on fire and threw it on the roof of the Holly Shopping Center, which immediately caught fire.
A surveillance camera from a nearby library caught the firebombing, Morrissey said. It also showed one of the suspects catching fire when one of the Molotov cocktails rolled off the roof and onto him.
There were six businesses in the 36,000-square-foot structure, including the Little Saints Day Care. No one was inside the businesses but a Denver firefighter was hurt while battling the fire.
Damage has not been completely estimated, but it's expected to top $2 million, Morrissey said.
It took nearly 70 firefighters several hours to bring the fire under control.
Early on their investigation, firefighters said the fire was a case of arson.
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