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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Police arrested a suspect in connection with stabbing a man along the South Platte River last week but nearby residents remain concerned for their safety.
"It comes and goes in waves and this is probably the worst I’ve ever seen it," said Richard Armstrong, who lives in the area with his girlfriend.
Armstrong said they simply don't feel safe anymore and can't enjoy their neighborhood due to the recent influx of campers. He pointed out all the garbage along the riverbank and said it looks more like a junkyard than a valued natural resource.
Englewood police officers responded to more than 100 calls for service near the South Platte River during the months of March and April. On May 2, a man was stabbed in the area of West Dartmouth Ave. and South Platte River Dr. According to police, there was an altercation between two people.
Police say the suspect, Delbert Vigil, was camping under the bridge and had used some type of edged weapon to stab a 29-year-old man. They believe the victim was passing through the area in order to visit another camper. Officers later arrested Vigil on May 6 near the river.
The city of Englewood released the following statement after the stabbing last week:
The increase in people camping on the banks of the South Platte River in Englewood and neighboring communities reflects the growth of the homeless population in Colorado and throughout the country. As part of the Denver metropolitan area, Englewood is not immune to the challenges faced by large, urban communities. The City of Englewood recognizes that this situation is dangerous for those camping in a flood-prone area, creates potential environmental hazards in our watershed, and limits the enjoyment of visitors to the South Platte riverbanks and recreational trails. The City has devoted significant resources to help people move beyond homelessness. The Englewood Police Department, for example, added a mental health co-responder program last year to help address behavioral health issues and guide people to essential services. Although Englewood on repeated occasions has removed all campsites on the South Platte River, in cooperation with other government, volunteer and faith-based organizations, the campsites reappear and continue to grow. In order to focus resources on long-term solutions and address the underlying causes of homelessness, Englewood has partnered with the cities of Littleton and Sheridan to form the Tri-Cities Homelessness Policy Group. The group shares information and is recommending additional research in order to determine the most effective responses. The City of Englewood is actively exploring a long-term, regional solution to a regional issue.