When Scott Alexander’s phone rang at 2 a.m. Sunday, he was told his daughter had been shot.
He raced to Denver Health Medical Center from his Parker home, convinced that his 24-year-old daughter had been a victim of a mass shooting.
“I never dreamed it would be a police bullet,” Alexander said.
When he entered the hospital, the waiting room was in chaos. Screams of “Police did this!” echoed down the hallway. The bystanders who had been shot were out of sight, having been whisked to the emergency room.
Bailey Alexander’s boyfriend was waiting for her parents, covered in her blood. She was released at 5:30 that morning. She was lucky. A bullet that entered her scapula area exited her arm but missed the bone, but she still has shrapnel in the wound.
Alexander, the dressing from her wounds covered by a blouse, told The Denver Gazette on Wednesday that she believes she was the first of six bystanders who were shot by Denver police as they responded to an altercation in Lower Downtown as the bars were letting out for the night.
“I can clearly say that they shot into the crowd,” she said.
She said her boyfriend picked her up as 75 to 100 people ran to escape the bullets.
Minutes earlier, Alexander passed two people yelling at each other just outside the front door of the Larimer Beer Hall at 20th and Larimer streets. One of those people, 21-year-old Jordan Waddy, was just a couple of feet away from her in front of a food truck when she heard a gunshot and then felt “the warmth of the blood going down.” Police said officers shot and wounded Waddy after he brandished a gun during the disturbance.
As an ambulance siren got closer, the anesthesiologist’s surgery assistant yelled for good Samaritans to put pressure on her wound. They used her boyfriend’s shirt as a tourniquet.
After a night celebrating her brother’s birthday, Almaz Asmelash and her fiancée, Yekalo Weldehiwet, who were also at Larimer Beer Hall, decided to go home around 1:30 a.m. As they walked single file south on the west side of Larimer to find their car, they heard gunshots and started running. That’s when something slammed Weldehiwet’s upper right arm.
It felt like I was hit by a baseball bat. My arm became a noodle,” the 26-year-old data analyst said.
Panicked, Asmelash ran straight into a parked bicycle and her brother fell on top of her. Asmelash picked them up and started moving and then felt blood. He had been shot in the upper arm, and he would find out later that his humorous bone was shattered.
At the hospital, he was questioned by police. “They didn’t tell me the bullet came from them. They tried to make it seem like it was the suspect’s fault and not their fault,” said Weldehiwet, who said he refused to sign a document presented to him by detectives. “It’s just unbelievable.”
The situation is especially unbelievable to a man who, as a boy, fled his home country of Ethiopia to escape the war there.
“We came to the U.S. for a better opportunity and for safety,” he said. “For them to shoot in a crowd like that makes you question if they’re getting the right training. Their job description is caring for the public, or is it just themselves they care about?”
On Wednesday, with a stiff bandage running from his shoulder all the way down his arm, Weldehiwet did interviews with reporters at his attorneys’ offices.
Representing Weldehiwet and Bailey Alexander is Denver’s Rathod-Mohamedbhai, the same law firm that negotiated a $15 million settlement for Elijah McClain’s mother, Sheneen.
It was unknown whether the others who were shot during the incident have hired attorneys. According to police, Waddy is the only one still in the hospital.
Siddartha Rathod said investigators are in the early stages of piecing together what happened. He wants to see halo and body camera footage and surveillance video.
“How the hell do five to six people just trying to get home get shot by the Denver police?” he asked.
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