A "group that had been hating on my cousin because of his jewelry" opened fire outside a nightclub in the popular Lodo District early Sunday, wounding seven people and killing one, police and a witness said.
Police Lt. Ron Saunier said the incident occurred just after the Hush nightclub closed at 2 a.m. The doors to the club, located at 15th and Market Street, were closed Sunday morning.
Dale Sasse, 22, who said he was driving a car back to the club to pick up his friends after the club closed, said he saw someone in the group of about 15 open fire.
"I saw my 'brother' fall down. I ran to his side," said Sasse.
He said Theodore Padilla, 25, said a few words before dying. He said he could see three bullets in Padilla's body.
Sasse said Padilla was his cousin but they were so close they were like brothers. "We were together everywhere, the mall, anywhere we went."
Padilla's family released a statement saying, "Theodore Padilla was a father of three and will not be able to raise his boys; to their sorrow and ours."
Steve Mestas said his son, Lyle, 22, was in serious condition with four bullet wounds. He said members of his friend's group said they came out of the club and someone in the other group began firing on them.
"Lyle's friend Ted was killed," he said, after visiting his son in the hospital.
Monday night, Mestas' friends say he underwent another surgery at Denver Health Medical Center.
"It's a sad story," said James Poitra, freind of Padilla's. "A good guy got killed over a chain....over little problems. I just wish it would stop."
Police reported no arrests.
Sasse and other friends placed three dozen red and pink roses near where the shooting occurred in the heart of Denver's Lower Downtown Entertainment District, six blocks away from Coors Field.
Monday, business was strong along Larimer Square as some shoppers asked media members why they were there.
"And today everyone seems to be walking around like nothing happened, " said Todd Barber, a server at one of the restaurants on Larimer.
"I was there (Hush) Friday, myself. And if I didn't have to work Saturday night I probably would've been in there. That's what was scary to me when I heard about it," Babrber said.
He described the crowd inside Hush as "rough" and was not surprised to hear that an argument there could've lead to a shooting outside.
Tony Encinias of Denver Health Medical Center said four of the victims were hospitalized there, two in serious condition and two in fair condition. The three other victims were treated and released from the hospital.
Sasse said his friends had been going to Hush "for a couple of years to kick back." He said they had been there from 10 p.m. until closing time. He said the "group of thugs began saying mean things to Ted about his jewelry" and, ultimately, the management kicked them out.
Anthony was wearing a chain around his neck. Police do not have any confirmation that anyone was kicked out of the nightclub.
Police are looking for a lone gunman, described only as a Hispanic male.
Denver police are looking for two American made full-size trucks, possibly Fords, with a crew cab. One truck has been described as a gray or green truck with some type of molding and clear windows.
The other truck was burnt orange or maroon with tinted windows and noisy brakes.
"A partial plate is better than no plate. I mean, you're talking about a partial plate on a particular truck. If I see a red truck driving down the street and I see that partial plate, that tels me, ding, ding, ding, that might be the right vehicle. I should call police," said Sonny Jackson, Denver Police spokesman.
The Denver Police Department would like anyone who has information regarding this crime, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem, to contact them.
A small detail may be a critical piece of information needed to solve this case, police said.
Anyone with information regarding this crime or these vehicles should contact the Denver Police Department or Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP.
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