LoDo business owner spearheading grassroots effort to address street violence when bars close

Paula Grey wants to change bar closing time

DENVER - A LoDo business owner is spearheading a grassroots effort to stem street violence at bar closing time.

Paula Grey says that effort may require a change in state law.

"The problem is that a 2 a.m. you have this 'dump' of thousands and thousands of people onto the street," Grey told 7NEWS. "If you've studied chaos theory, or just think about habitat, it's the perfect habitat for craziness and violence."

Grey called the weekend shooting death of 19-year old Airman 1st Class Shaquille Hargrove "very sad and disappointing."

Police say Hargrove, of Wilson, North Carolina, shot in the chest following a large-scale fight at 15th and Market streets early Saturday morning.

When asked if the teenage airman had been in one of the bars, Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson said, "We don’t know."

Grey said she doesn't know if the airman was in a bar either, but added that young people congregate downtown because of the excitement.

She said the trouble doesn't always start with people coming out of the bars. She said some people intentionally wait for closing time to cause mayhem.

"Anyone who wants to cause a problem will find someplace where it's chaotic, where no one is going to know who's doing what to whom," she said.

"I see a lot of stuff going on down here," said LoDo resident Patrick Reifsneider. "It's halfway scary."

Grey said one possible solution might be a later closing time.

"Some bigger metro areas have later closing times," she said,"and they don't have this ‘dump’ of all these people at once."

She said with later closing times, people tend to leave more gradually.

Denver police say they're not taking a stance on Grey's suggestion, but add it could just give people more time to drink more alcohol.

Grey said she hopes to have a draft written in the next month, or so, to change state law to allow for a later closing time.

"The final step," she said, "is finding a lawmaker who's interested in taking this to the state legislature."

Police are reviewing video from the halo cameras at 15th and Market streets to see if the shooting was captured on camera.

Police are also asking anyone who was in the area when the fight occurred, and who shot video with their cellphone, to contact them.

The head of the 460th Space Wing at Buckley Air Force Base, where Hargrove was stationed, has placed that area of LoDo off-limits to base members until the investigation determines whether the area is safe.

A second airman was injured during the fight. Authorities are not releasing his name.  They say he was treated and released from a local hospital.

"On behalf of myself and Team Buckley, I want to offer my sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those affected by this tragic incident," said Col. Dan Wright, 460th Space Wing commander. "Our Airmen are the greatest assets in the Air Force, and we lost a valuable member of Team Buckley this weekend,"

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