DENVER (CBS4) – The deadly shooting of Denver police officer Celena Hollis has raised questions about the safety and the future of the City Park Jazz program.
Thousands were at the park Sunday evening the deadly gunfire broke out between gangs.
“On a weekly basis, whenever you have an event like this, you are dealing with a diverse crowd.” said Chris Zacher the president of City Park Jazz. “We had about 7,000 here this evening and you get all types.”
The initial reaction from the city is to keep the 26-year-old program up and running.
“We’re going to encourage that it continues going,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. “We’ll work with the police department and the organizers to make sure that folks can come, feel safe and enjoy what I think has become a very big part of Denver’s fabric during the summer months.”
The mayor’s wife and daughter were at the park at the time of the shooting and he said he would have been there had he been feeling better.
Zacher echoed the mayor’s statement.
“This is an absolutely fabulous event,” he said. “We started in the mid-80s due to some violence that was happening in the park at that time. The community banded together to pull people back into the park and for 26 years now it’s continued to grow.”
But as personal as City Park Jazz is to Zacher, so is the loss for the Hollis family. He started with City Park Jazz seven years ago, the same time Hollis joined Denver police. He spoke to her every week as part of the security detail for the event.
“At this point in time we’re more focused on Officer Hollis and her daughter, their family. They’re mourning a great loss today and the Denver Police Department. We really need to keep focused on Officer Hollis right now. Our event and what we’re doing, we’ll come out with details later in the week.”
The board of City Park Jazz plans to discuss the situation at a meeting Monday night, including possibly doing a memorial service for Officer Hollis, but the hope is to keep the music playing.
“City Park Jazz is so unique in its purpose and what it does,” Zacher said. “It’s a free event and it’s a large free event that draws thousands of people every week.
“It draws a diverse crowd from all over the whole Denver region. We have people as far as Golden and Littleton as well as all the neighborhoods around City Park.
“You don’t see events like this in other cities and banding together using only local musicians and trying to get local advertisers as we’ve been able to do, it’s truly a community event and not a corporate event. I think that’s what makes it so great.”