Denver police identified the police officer shot and killed at City Park Sunday night as a 32-year-old single mother and the president of the Denver Black Officers Organization.
Celena Hollis was shot in the head while trying to break up a fight during the free weekly jazz concert in the park.
Denver's police chief said officers arrested 21-year-old Rollin Michael Oliver for investigation of first-degree murder. He is being held without bond. He was in possession of a weapon when he was arrested, said Denver's police chief, Robert White, during a Monday morning news conference.
He and other officers in the room were wearing a black band across their badges.
White said he doesn't believe that that gunman purposely shot the officer, and may have been firing at random or at something or someone else.
"I don't believe he purposely shot at the police officer," White said.
White thanked the witnesses who helped officers make the arrest.
"After the officer was struck, a citizen gave us a description. Shortly thereafter several officers noticed the individual and were able to apprehend him. It is unknown whether or not he is a gang member," White said.
The CALL7 Investigators confirmed through an official familiar with juvenile court that Oliver was charged with a weapons offense in 2008.
Officer Celena Hollis Well-Liked, Well-Respected
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said Hollis was a single mother raising a 12-year-old daughter, and was well known in the department and in Denver.
"We have lost a dedicated officer to this city, a leader in the department, in this city," Hancock said. "Let me second what the chief has asked, that we all pray for the family of Officer Hollis, that we all pray for this community, that we all pray for this department."
"She was a very pleasant, extremely pleasant, polite officer. She had a phenomenal reputation," White added.
Hollis had spent 7 years in the Denver Police Department and was an officer on the police force in Detroit before she transferred in October 2005.
"She served as a patrol officer in District Two and was a member of the Street Crime Attack Team (SCAT). She used her Critical Incident Training skills to de-escalate several hostile and potentially violent incidents, including successfully assisting an Iraqi war veteran who suffered from PTSD. Officer Hollis has been recognized numerous times for her outstanding performance and service to the community," according to an online bio on the Denver Police Department's website. "She was an amazing person with an engaging smile who was well liked and respected by her colleagues and the community she served. She will be missed."
She was one of six off-duty, uniformed officers working the festival on Sunday. It was her fourth time working this venue, CALL7 Investigators have learned.
"We're all feeling the pain. I sat with officers who were absolutely in grief last night. I don't know what you say to a 12-year-old young lady who just found out she lost her mother in the line of duty," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said.
The park remained closed Monday morning as investigators looked for evidence.
City Park Shooting Creates Panic In Crowd
The shooting occurred as the concert was ending around 8 p.m.
The officer was trying to break up a fight between two groups and, "Somebody came out firing their weapon (and) the officer was struck in the head," said Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson.
The gunfire created panic among the crowd of people at the concert.
"We were just sitting here listening to the music, and all of a sudden we saw everybody running, saying, 'Everybody get down. Everybody get down,'" said a woman who attended the concert with her two young daughters.
"We first thought it was a fight. But everybody was running, saying, 'Somebody got shot,'" the woman said.
The officer was rushed to Denver Health Medical Center where she was pronounced dead, Jackson said.
7NEWS was at the hospital when an ambulance carrying the mortally wounded officer arrived, escorted by more than a dozen patrol cars.
Samuel Bell, 19, of Denver, said he was in the parking lot looking for a space for his scooter, which police later cordoned off with yellow tape. He said he heard several shots.
"We just arrived at the park. It was crowded, it was looking fun," Bell said. "And then 'pa- pa-pa-pa' outta nowhere.
"We just ducked," Bell said. "We pulled off in enough time to get away. It was crazy."
He said he saw police officers administering CPR on the uniformed officer as she laid on the pavement. He estimated he was about 10 to 20 feet away from where the officer was shot.
The police chief asked anyone who witnessed anything to come forward to help them with their investigation and put the pieces of the puzzle together.
"There were thousands of individuals that were at the festival last night. We're asking anyone who saw anything remotely ... please come forward and provide that information," White said. "While we have made an arrest, this is still very much an ongoing investigation and we would greatly, greatly appreciate any information that could help us put the pieces together as it relates to this."
Mayor Vows To Keep Jazz Concert Festival Safe
More than 1,000 people were at the City Park Jazz concert, the fourth of 10 shows scheduled for this summer in the annual series that draws families and people of all backgrounds to one of the city's more popular summer events.
Denver's mayor vowed to continue to hold public events such as the annual Jazz in the Park festival and to make sure the events remained safe.
"We are not going to allow a few folks who decide to make some very bad decisions to condemn this event that's very much a culture of this great city of ours," Hancock said. "We want to encourage the patrons of this jazz festival
and we'll do everything we can to make people feel safe, know that they're safe. This is something that's very much part of our city, our great city. But we're moving forward."
"We're not going to let a few individuals hold this entire city hostage," White added. "If it requires us to have more of a presence there, we'll take a look at that."
He said that part of the investigation is to assess if the event was adequately staffed with police officers. He did not say how many officers -- not including the off-duty officers -- were working the event.
CALL7 Investigators learned that some officers were pulled from the venue just before it began.
A number of officers assigned to the gang unit, who were to have been at the jazz concert were pulled away just before 5 p.m. to cover a gang-related shooting at 33rd and Hudson. One person there was shot in the face, but survived.
White said there have been "some skirmishes" at the jazz festival over the last couple of years but nothing to this magnitude.
"When you bring several hundred thousand people together, there's bound to be skirmishes here and there. We've seen that with this as well as other concerts that have occurred, but nothing to this level," Hancock said.
"I believe it's a very safe event. My wife and daughter were there last night. Had I felt better, I would have gone," Hancock added.
Hancock took the opportunity to ask the community to help end gun violence.
"It is our hope that what we are seeing in our community today with young people carrying weapons, young people firing indiscriminately into crowds, or at people standing on corners
We don't believe that we are seeing evidence of another summer of violence but we certainly aren't going to sit back and allow it to continue to grow in that direction," Hancock said.
"Rest assured that we will diligently continue to pursue peace on our streets and ask the community to work with the city -- because this is a community issue -- to get the weapons out of the hands of these young people," Hancock said. "We need to get these weapons off the streets and out of the hands of these young people who aren't simply able to calculate the consequences for their actions."
Police said anyone with information about the officer's slaying can anonymously call Denver Metro Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867; or they can text CRIMES (274637) with the subject title DMCS and enter the message; or email metro-denvercrimestoppers.com.
City Park is one Denver's most famous, and sprawls across several hundred acres east of downtown. It holds the Denver Zoo, Museum of Nature and Science, as well as ponds, trails and recreational fields.
Hollis is the first Denver police officer killed in the line of duty since 2005.
Memorial Service Held This Saturday
Officer Hollis' memorial service will be held this Saturday at 11 a..m. the Denver First Church of Nazarene, 3800 E. Hampden Avenue, Englewood, 80113
Donations for Officer Hollis daughter and family can be made to:
Celena Hollis Memorial Fund Account Number 23012705 Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement FCU 700 W. 39th Avenue Denver, CO 80216 303-458-6660
Girlz Pushing the Button is hosting a Community fundraiser from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, at 3030 Downing St.
Our co-hosts are Eden, Representative Angela Williams and Councilman Albus Brooks.
The funds are in honor of slain Officer Celena Hollis and dedicated to her young daughter. Checks should be made payable to: Celena Hollis Fund.
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