DENVER — Police Chief Paul Pazen on Tuesday said detectives are making "significant" progress in the investigation into the Denver shooting that left nine people hurt, including a toddler and five other juveniles, but no arrests have been made, and officials said the city is seeing a surge in violent crime.
"What happened Sunday is absolutely unacceptable," Mayor Michael Hancock said at a news conference Tuesday.
The shooting happened during a large family gathering in Denver on Sunday in the 1400 block of West Byers. Police said it was possibly a drive-by shooting, and Pazen on Tuesday said there was possibly a music video being shot during the incident.
Police said six people were transported to the hospital. Three others arrived at the hospital later. All of the victims are expected to recover. They included a 3-year-old child, an 11-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy, plus three 17-year-old victims, Pazen said.
Pazen said "it is too soon to tell" what the motive was for the shooting. He pleaded with witnesses for information, saying there has been a lack of cooperation.
"We need all the assistance and cooperation we can get," Pazen said. "That is completely unacceptable to take place in our city. We need family, friends and witness cooperation to hold these people accountable."
Tuesday's news conference addressed the shooting but also the overall surge in violent crime in Denver. City officials said the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has created additional mental health stressors that could lead to more violence. Pazen also said the city has to address the issue of gun violence in Denver.
Pazen said 422 guns have been reported stolen in Denver this year, through Aug. 6, nearly 100 more than this time last year.
Dr. John Nicoletti, a Denver psychologist who specializes in police and public safety issues, spoke at the Tuesday news conference and addressed the stress of COVID-19 and how it could be tied to more violence.
"We're really in uncharted territory," Nicoletti said. "There is no norm for what we're dealing with."
When asked why some witnesses might not be willing to come forward with information, Nicoletti listed several reasons: Witnesses could see police as an adversary, not a confidant; they might not want to appear to be a "snitch"; the incident was too traumatic to talk about; or it's the culture of a family or group not to talk about violent incidents.
Pazen said the city has a team of mental health workers in the neighborhood where the shooting happened to ensure neighbors or any witnesses get the assistance they need.
Anyone with information about the Sunday shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867).