Denver police confirmed Wednesday that they are looking for a 1998 four-door Chevrolet Tahoe sport utility vehicle in connection with the shooting death of Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams.
State confidentiality laws prevent the police from saying who a vehicle is registered to. But 7NEWS has confirmed that the SUV is registered to Brian K. Hicks of Denver.
Hicks has been jailed since Nov. 9 on a charge of possessing drugs with intent to distribute. He's also accused of shooting at a woman who was later killed a week before she was to testify against him. His bond was increased to $1 million after the woman was killed and his trial date was rescheduled.
Hicks is a known gang member and there were other rival gang members at the club that Williams was at just before the shooting.
There were reportedly tensions between the two groups and Williams was said to be a peacemaker in one of the confrontations.
Police said the vehicle has a Colorado license plate of 665-OBS and is considered a "vehicle of interest" in the case. They issued a "BOLO," for the vehicle, which advises officers to be on the lookout for the SUV.
"We are not calling this a suspect vehicle at this time," said police spokesman Sonny Jackson. "We would like to talk to the individuals who might be on board this vehicle."
Hicks is accused of shooting Kalonniann Louisa Clark in 2005. Clark was gunned down last month just days before she was scheduled to testify against Hicks at his trial. Because of Clark's murder, Hicks' trial was rescheduled.
Police said they are hoping a $2,000 Crimestoppers reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Williams' killer will prompt someone to come forward with information about the New Year's Day shooting that took the Broncos cornerback's life.
Williams was with a group of people, including teammates Javon Walker, D.J. Williams and Brandon Marshall, at The Shelter nightclub for a New Year's Eve celebration. The stretch limousine he and others were riding in when they left the club was sprayed with bullets a few blocks away, killing Williams and wounding two others in the limo.
Police are looking at a number of theories about what led to the shooting but stressed they haven't focused on any one probability.
Among the reports they've received from witnesses and tipsters:
Williams was involved in an argument with several people outside The Shelter after someone tried to snatch a gold chain from around his neck.
An argument inside the club involved friends of Williams who were members of a rap group promoting their record label. Williams played peacemaker and intervened.
An argument involved another Bronco and a woman that did not involve Williams but the shooter thought one of the people involved got into the limo.
The attack on the limo was random and wasn't the result of anything that happened at the club.
What is known is that 14 shots hit the side of the H2 Hummer limo, some going through windows, others going into the doors of the vehicle. With tinted windows, it was clear that whoever fired the shots couldn't see where anyone inside the limo was sitting.
Police have not said if all the bullets match, so it is not known if more than one weapon was involved or if it was a semi- or full-automatic weapon.
The father of the 21-year-old woman who was shot while riding in the same limo as Williams described the moments during the shooting as "terrorizing."
Ron Reindl said his daughter, Nicole, initially thought someone threw a rock through the window.
Nicole Reindl still has a bullet lodged in the back of her head, but it did not penetrate her skull or brain. Doctors have decided to leave the bullet there for now.
"She was leaning forward talking into her cell phone while holding a finger in her other ear, so she could hear better," said Ron Reindl. "That's when a bullet grazed the back of her head. I believe that cell phone call saved her life."
Detectives originally said they were looking for a white Suburban or Tahoe with tinted windows that was seen speeding away after the shooting at 11th Avenue and Speer Boulevard. Jackson said police are still searching for any vehicles matching that description that might have been in the area at the time of the shooting.
Investigators are reviewing surveillance tapes taken inside the club and are also looking at video from traffic cameras in the area to see if they can spot the suspected shooting vehicle either before or after the shooting. The only camera in the area is at Colfax Avenue and Speer Boulevard
Police have asked anyone with information about the fatal shooting to contact them. Tipsters can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.
"If you see that vehicle contact Denver police right away," said Jackson. "Don't try to approach the individuals. Don't talk to them. Just call us."
Emotional fans said the vehicle of interest offers hope in finding the person or persons responsible for Williams' murder.
"It does surprise me. I'm excited, too," said Bronco fan Clayton Hering. "I hope it helps us find the person who did this or the people."
"I hope it will be a big breakthrough in the case. They do need to find this person and prosecute them," said Broncos fan Linda Martinez. "It's such a tragedy that it happened to someone so young and so talented."
There was some talk Wednesday about the possibility that suspects may have fled from Denver to Los Angeles. A spokeswoman from the Los Angeles Police Department told 7NEWS that no detectives from Colorado have contacted their counterparts in L.A. She did say, however, that it is not uncommon for suspects who commit a crime in one state to flee to another state to try to avoid being arrested.
Williams' Family Join Teammates In Private Service
Teammates of Williams joined his immediate family at the Bronco training facility at Dove Valley Wednesday morning for a private memorial service that lasted about 2 hours.
Darrent's mother, Rosalind Williams, issued a statement Wednesday thanking everyone for their support:
"I would like to thank you all for the love and support that our family has received during this sad time. Dee lived his life to the fullest. To all the fans and friends that supported my son, I would like to take this moment to say, 'Thank you.' I would also like to thank Pat Bowlen, Coach Shanahan, and everyone in the Broncos organization for your tremendous support."
"I know from all of the public outpouring of sympathy, my son -- in his short time on this earth -- touched many lives," she added. "We rejoice in the knowledge that Dee is now with the Lord. He may be gone, but he wont be forgotten."
"I'm not focusing on who did what, what happened, what was said or any of that stuff," said Williams' father James Fuller. "I'm just focusing on having to lay my son to rest, that he may rest in peace."
The team will fly to Fort Worth, Texas, later this week to attend the Saturday funeral service for Williams. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he will speak at the funeral and all of the Broncos players will attend.
A wake will be held Friday night in Fort Worth.
William's high school in Fort Worth, O.D. Wyatt, will have a memorial for Darrent Williams at 7 p.m. Thursday. On Friday, his wake and viewing is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Great Commission Baptist Church. His funeral will be at noon Saturday at Commission Baptist Church.
For Bronco fans mourning the death of Williams', the makeshift memorial at Dove Valley is the closest thing to a memorial for him they will get to attend, so many said they came to pay their respects.
Many of the fans who showed up Wednesday said in some way Williams touched their lives.
To help with the grieving process fans like Stephanie Olsen left flowers.
"I came down here because I think it's very sad," said Olsen. "I hope the police catch whoever did it and his family can get some type of closure."
"He's a good player and obviously a good man," said one Bronco fan. "The whole community will miss him."
Buffalo Bills fan Thomas Taylor said something about Williams' death moved him, so he visited the makeshift memorial and brought a football saying, "Rest in peace, Darrent."
"I'm not a Broncos fan, but right now I am," he said.
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