DENVER — Gun violence ended the lives of three minors in a one-week span in Denver, with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock calling it a wake-up call for the community and a family putting a face to the painful loss.
Angel Shabazz and Donald Armstrong lost their son, Davarie Armstrong, in one of the shootings this week. The 17-year-old was the oldest to six brothers and sisters. His parents described him as athletic, charismatic and funny.
In June, Armstrong turned 17 years old and he was on the path to graduate in 2021. His family says he went on a tour of historically Black colleges and universities and dreamed of a bright future Armstrong played football, basketball and ran track. His dad says his son was his best friend.
“The best memory I got is watching him play football, knowing I’m not going to see him play football again is the most hurtful thing,” he said.
Dozens of students turned out to South High School with flowers and balloons in hand to pay tribute to Armstrong. His friends cried and laughed as they shared memories of Armstrong.
Armstrong was shot and killed after an altercation at a house party on the 4500 block of Atchison Way, according to Denver Police. His parents say he was trying to deescalate a situation when he was shot. Armstrong’s mother says her children are devastated and call the death of their brother a nightmare.
From January through July of 2020, 48 people have been murdered, of those, eight were minors, according to Denver Police records. In just one week, Armstrong, 14-year-old Xzavier Collier and 16-year-old Chaney Harris were shot and killed.
In 2019, during the same time frame of 31 murders, three were minors, according to Denver Police.
Shabazz says less than ten hours after she gave condolences to the mother of Collier, her son was murdered.
“This cannot be about the mayor, the governor, our city council our police, this has got to be a full-on response by the community,” Mayor Michael Hancock said.
The mayor says social media, social economics and COVID-19 are fueling violence. He is asking everyone to step-up and help guide the next generation and remind them that their lives matter.
Outside South High School, flowers, pictures and messages are a reminder of the gravity and pain of youth violence in the community.
“We are going to turn over every rock until we find people who are responsible for the senseless violence in our city and we are going to hold them accountable,” Mayor Handcock said.
“No child should ever have to make their parent go through burying them because children can’t put their guns down,” Shabazz said.
She says she will not rest until her son has justice. Shabazz is also turning to parents and asking them to take charge.
“I need us, parents, to come together and hold our kids accountable,” she said.
The family has set up a GoFundMe if you would like to help.