As bars were being let out in Denver’s LoDo neighborhood around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday people filled the streets. One was enjoying a birthday celebration with his family and another was enjoying time with her boyfriend when they were shot by stray bullets from police.
Three officers from the Denver Police Department were pursuing a suspect, 21-year-old Jordan Waddy, early Sunday morning and fired seven shots at him after they say he pointed a gun at them. The pursuit happened in the 2000 block of Larimer Street, near Larimer Beer Hall.
At least six innocent bystanders were caught in the crossfire, police confirmed at a press conference Wednesday. Two of those victims said they are looking for answers as to why police fired shots into an open crowd. Both victims said they are suffering pain and sleepless nights after they were shot in their arms and shoulder.
“The night was going well because it was my in-law’s birthday, so we went out to eat and were having fun and ended up at Beer Hall,” said Yekalo Weldehiwet, 26, of Denver. “I met some friends and as soon as we said goodbye to the friends we met up with, three of us were walking, and we heard the first gunshots.”
Weldehiwet said they ducked and started running toward a parking lot on the back left side of Beer Hall.
“When I heard the second gunshot, I felt like a baseball, going 100 mph, had slammed into my bone. The bullet entered the back side of my bicep and shattered my humerus bone. The bullet is still in there and fragments,” he said.
Bailey Alexander, 24, of Denver, said she was standing at a food truck with her boyfriend on Larimer Street when she was struck by a bullet in the back. Alexander was hit in the back of her right shoulder and the bullet went through just above her armpit and out her right arm. She too still has bullet fragments in her body.
“My boyfriend grabbed me and started to turn me and shield me a little bit, and that’s when I heard the first gunshot,” Alexander said. “I felt the warmth of the blood going down my arm and my back. My boyfriend picked me up and we started going down a parking lot right next to Beer Hall. Then we turned into another alleyway where two other women helped me stay conscious. They asked me questions and held pressure to the wound and made a make-shift tourniquet out of a T-shirt while we waited for the ambulance to arrive.”
Both said police declined to tell them who had actually shot them while in the hospital. They learned it was police by reading it online the next day.
Denver police defended the officers’ actions at a press conference on Wednesday. They said they had to act quickly after Waddy pointed a gun at them.
“The two officers were specifically defending their own life,” said Lt. Matt Clark to reporters. “They thought they were in peril and the subject could have fired upon them.”
Waddy had been involved in a fight with another person on Larimer Street earlier that night right before police encountered him.
“They certainly didn’t go in with the intent of injuring other people,” Clark said. “They were trying to mitigate the threat and do the best they could.”
Crowds were dispersing on Larimer Street when police gave verbal commands for Waddy to stop after learning about the fight. When police confronted him, Waddy backed up onto a sidewalk between a vehicle and a food truck, and disregarded the command, police said.
Waddy struggled a bit and eventually removed a black semiautomatic handgun from his jacket pocket. That’s when police fired at least seven rounds toward him. One officer fired four rounds at Waddy and another officer fired two rounds, both simultaneously. A third officer who had followed Waddy around a vehicle and onto the sidewalk saw Waddy pointing a gun at the officers across the street, and he fired one shot at Waddy, police said. This third officer feared for the safety of the other two and got a clear shot before firing, Clark added.
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