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Community Rallies To Stop Violence In Northeast Denver

Shooting Victims Identified
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A sign near the area of the shooting on York Street (credit: CBS)

A sign near the area of the shooting on York Street (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver police are looking for two men involved in a deadly shooting that happened Friday near 33rd and York Street.

Shots rang out on the sidewalk in front of a busy marketplace in the middle of the day. Four people were shot and two of the victims died. It’s the same shopping center where a store clerk was shot earlier this month.

The community gathered Friday evening to send out a message. Some in the gathering of almost 200 insisted that one of the young men shot and killed, identified as Justin O’Donnell, 21, was not a gang member. They came to remember him and the other victim, identified as Deon T. Rudd, 30.

There were pleas from speakers to stop the violence in the neighborhood. The mother of a young man killed by a gunman in 2004 pleaded with the crowd to think about someone’s mother before pulling the trigger.

“The guns have to stop, the killings have to stop, these mothers have to stop this grieving,” Sherri Landrum with “Stop the Violence” said. “We shouldn’t have to go through this. A mother shouldn’t have to feel this pain over and over again.”

The gathering was organized by a man who knows firsthand what it means to be in a gang.

“Two decades ago we had the ‘Summer of Violence.’ That was 1993,” Terrance Roberts said.

Roberts should know. He was shot in the back. That rude wake-up call took him away from gang membership and into a life fighting to keep children from joining gangs.

“We’re still dealing with the same issues; broad daylight, young men getting killed,” Roberts said.

Roberts spent his day consoling family members whose young men died Friday.

“Who knows that when they see their kid ironing their clothes that day that their kid is going to get murdered?” he said.

Roberts doesn’t know if Friday’s shootings were gang related, but he believes the first step to preventing violence is easing the desperation that comes from being without a job.

“We have about 200 warehouses over here in Northeast Denver and they’re not even hiring people who live in Northeast Denver,” Roberts said. “But we’re complaining about unemployment because our people are killing one another.”

Roberts has been honored for keeping children out of gangs but he says without grant money for youth programs his fight is not easy.

“Until people start getting those resources, what else do we expect to see?”

There is a ray of hope. Wealthy businessman Philip Anschutz donated $5 million to build a Boys & Girls Club in Northeast Denver, but that won’t be ready until October 2013.

In the meantime, Roberts has worked to build a basketball court and is raising money for a playground.

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