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On eve of Columbine’s 20th anniversary, hundreds turn out for solemn vigil

April 19, 2019 - 9:07pm

As people slowly gathered Friday at Clement Park, Sarah Boyd laid a single purple tulip on each of the plaques remembering the 13 people killed in the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School, just over the hill from the memorial.

About an hour later, the semi-circle ringed by an outside brick wall would fill up with hundreds of people attending a quiet vigil on the eve of the 20th anniversary of what at the time was the country’s deadliest school shooting.

For Boyd, a 1996 Columbine graduate, paying her respects is a regular ritual. She and her husband lay flowers on each plaque every year.

COLUMBINE: 20 YEARS LATER

The Denver Post takes a look at the aftermath of the Columbine High School shooting and what has happened over the last 20 years. Click here to see more of the Denver Post’s anniversary coverage.

“It’s a nice way to celebrate the lives they lived up until that point,” said Boyd, who was in an area office building the day two Columbine students stormed the school with guns and pipe bombs.

RELATED: VIDEO: 20 Years Later, survivors and families remember Columbine

For years afterward, Boyd said people still struggled with the fact that the suburban enclave with a scenic backdrop of the foothills had been the scene of a massacre that riveted Colorado and the nation.

“But it can happen anywhere. No one is immune, unfortunately,” Boyd said. “I hope someday that people can look back and say these are the things that were made better because of such a terrible day.”

As the sunny spring afternoon turned into dusk, more and more people walked down the path to the circular memorial nestled amid hills and trees. Former Columbine principal Frank DeAngelis and Scott Christy, the current principal, talked to several people in the crowd, including the parents of students who were killed 20 years ago.

The mood was subdued as people held tea lights and walked from plaque to plaque, reading tributes written by the victims’ families or poems and diary entries of the fallen. Friday’s vigil was one of the events marking the 20th anniversary of Columbine.

BEARING WITNESS PODCAST: COLUMBINE AND THE NEWS MEDIA

What at the time was unfathomable has been repeated in different settings across the country. More than 200 people have died in school shootings alone since Columbine.

Those killed were teacher Dave Sanders, 47; and students Cassie Bernall, 17; Steven Robert Curnow, 14; Lauren Townsend, 18; Kyle Velasquez, 16; Daniel Mauser, 15; Danny Rohrbough, 15; Isaiah Shoels, 18; John Tomlin, 16; Kelly Fleming, 16; Rachel Scott, 17; Matt Kechter, 16; and Corey Depooter, 17.

Two dozen others were wounded.

Only two days before the memorial, an 18-year-old South Florida woman said to be “infatuated” with the Columbine shootings was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the base of Mount Evans. Hundreds of Denver-area schools closed Wednesday as the FBI and Colorado law enforcement agents searched for Sol Pais, who bought a pump-action shotgun and ammunition after taking a one-way flight to Colorado.

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Dune Maleikat was one of thousands of parents who got a call saying that school was canceled because of the search for Pais. Twenty years ago, she knew something was happening at Columbine when she saw and heard helicopters overhead. She felt it was important to be at the vigil Friday. She went with her son, 5-year-old Lucian, and her mother, Heidi Snyder.

“The community again can show how strong we are together, that we’re there for each other,” Maleikat said. “We will never forget what has happened. It was awful, but I’m hoping this is also going to help the families to see there are people, 20 years later, still caring about them.”

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WATCH: Avalanche’s Gabe Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen score first goals of Game 5; Philipp Grubauer saves penalty shot

April 19, 2019 - 7:58pm

Oh, captain!

Colorado Avalanche team captain Gabe Landeskog put his team up 1-0 in the first period against the Flames after tipping in a shot in front of the net. Mikko Rantanen added another goal at 15:38 mark.

Goalie Philipp Grubauer continues to shine during the Stanley Cup Playoffs for Colorado. He came up with a big save as he stuffed the Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau’s penalty shot.

Take a look at all three plays below.

A B E A U T Y of a tip from The Captain!#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/gVRmTUoY1g

— x- Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 20, 2019

MIKKO!!#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/FnmJicLVQ9

— x- Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 20, 2019

GRU COMES THRU#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/XLyAAJllCt

— x- Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 20, 2019

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Denver’s 4/20 gathering five years after recreational sales: It’s a party

April 19, 2019 - 7:29pm

The annual 4/20 marijuana gathering in Denver’s Civic Center Park is nearly here and this year the message is simple: Come for the party, stay for the party. (P.S. Leave your stash and the kids at home.)

Weed has come a long way in Colorado and so has its companion event. April 20 used to be a day that legalization advocates gathered in public to light up and push for an end to marijuana prohibition. But recreational pot sales have been legal in Colorado since 2014. They’re legal in nine other states, with more than 20 other states allowing for medical use.

For Euflora, the dispensary chain hosting this year’s event, dubbed the FlyHi 4:20 Festival, it’s not about protest, it’s about celebrating how far marijuana and its cannabis cousin hemp have come in Colorado. From illicit drug to active ingredient in a federally approved medicine.

FlyHi 4:20 Festival

Where: Civic Center Park

When: Music starts at 10 a.m., event ends at 6 p.m.

Cost: Free

“It’s a celebration of cannabis,” Euflora marketing director Lindsay Hanna said Friday. “The celebration of the legalization of recreational marijuana and celebrating the plant and everything that comes with it.”

Keeping in line with last year — when Euflora won the right to be the first marijuana company to host 4/20 in Civic Center — it promises to be slick operation. Live music will start at 10 a.m. with rappers Jermaine Dupri and T.I. headlining the main stage. Cannabis industry and industry-related companies, craft goods makers and apparel brands will populate vendors’ booths. Nine food trucks will be there along with a  food tent. There will even be beer and wine for sale, Hanna said.

Euflora and the Marijuana Industry Group are urging people to leave their weed at home. Denver police ticketed 56 people across the city for illegal public consumption of marijuana last April 20.

RELATED: Celebrating 4/20 this year? Check out these events, deals around Denver for the annual pot holiday.

“Consuming cannabis in public is illegal and just because this is a 4/20 festival does not mean that those laws go away,” Hanna said.

While the free event is all-ages, Hanna hopes people will leave children under 18 at home. Given the forecasts call for a warm day, she also urges attendees to bring reusable water bottles. Euflora is anticipating as many as 75,000 people will show up.

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Miguel Lopez will be in the park at 4:20 p.m. Saturday, as he says he has been every year since he was 16 years old. Lopez was the permit holder for the 4/20 rally from 2008 until 2018, when he received a three-year permit ban and a rebuke from city officials and Euflora co-founder Pepe Breton after the 2017 event left the park strewn with trash amid other issues.

For Lopez, a long-time political activist, the 4/20 rally has its roots in racial justice. He points out that minority people were disproportionately targeted by law enforcement when marijuana was illegal, something city officials acknowledged when launching efforts to expunge the records of low-level offenders last year.  He will be attending the event in support of humanity, he said, not large businesses or marijuana lobbying groups that he says now serve to keep minorities out of the industry.

“We are still here,” Lopez said. “As Native Americans, we have endured the rugged Rocky Mountains, we’ve endured the racial hatred. We are the creators and the founders of the 4/20 rally here.”

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Denver hemp oil company plans giveaway outside Carl’s Jr location testing CBD burger on 4/20

April 19, 2019 - 6:53pm

Call it a troll or a prime marketing opportunity. Either way, a Denver hemp company plans to piggyback on Carl’s Jr’s CBD burger test run Saturday by giving away free samples of its own product outside the chain’s Colorado Boulevard restaurant.

Functional Remedies, self-described as “the only vertically integrated hemp oil company” plans to have a team stationed outside the Carl’s Jr location at 4050 Colorado Blvd. from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday to give away samples of the company’s whole-plant, lipid-infused hemp oil.

In a news release, the company explained its product is hand-pressed and derived from the most nutrient-dense hemp plants. The result, Functional Remedies claims, is “highly efficacious products” that are “far superior to CBD isolate and concentrate products.”

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the more than 100 chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. Advocates say CBD provides relaxing, anti-inflammatory effects. It is the active ingredient in a Food and Drug Administration-approved medicine. There will be 5 milligrams of the stuff in every “Rocky Mountain High CheeseBurger Delight” Carl’s Jr sells on Colorado Boulevard Saturday.

“People are hearing about CBD everywhere, but there’s still an education process happening,” Functional Remedies Chief Marketing Officer Tony Tomassini said in news release. “We want to give Denverites – and the world – the opportunity to try our products and experience the difference that a true, full-spectrum hemp oil can make in their daily lives.”

Carl’s Jr’s CBD burger is going for $4.20 and is only available to customers ages 18 and up, limit two per customer. The restaurant will open up at 6 a.m. for the test run. It’s perhaps the most high-profile experiment with CBD-infused food product by a national company to date.

The CBD Carl’s Jr is using is being produced by Bluebird Botanicals of Louisville.

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Rockies’ Garrett Hampson is learning to handle major-league learning curve

April 19, 2019 - 6:01pm

The flashes of talent and hints that Garrett Hampson might someday develop into a special major-league ballplayer continue to show up.

He hit the first home run of his career Tuesday in San Diego. During a recent seven-game hitting streak, he batted .273 (9-for-33) with a double, triple and his home run. His versatility has enabled him to start at second base (his primary position), center field and left field this season.

It could well be that when veteran first baseman Daniel Murphy comes off the injured list, Ryan McMahon will slide over from first to second, making Hampson a utility player.

Still, Hampson’s raw speed, as well as his skill with the bat — laying down bunts, making contact on hit-and-run plays — have earned the admiration of manager Bud Black.

What Hampson, 24, needs now is more seasoning. Though he hit .300 or better at every minor-league stop, his .186 batting average entering Friday night’s game is evidence that he needs to get better.

“There is a big, big difference between minor-league pitching and major-league pitching,” Black said. “Now, however, I think Garrett is getting enough big-league at-bats that he can see that difference. With that, comes some level of comfort of what to expect. That’s where he is now.

Hampson, who made his debut last July, thinks he’s in a good place.

“I’m starting to hit my stride now, I feel more comfortable in the box,” he said. “I know that there is an adjustment period that most guys have to go through. It’s not easy and it takes some time to get your feet wet. I understand that.

“The ball certainly travels a little differently out of the hand of big-league pitchers and the guys know how to pitch. There aren’t going to make many mistakes. That’s the difference from the minor leagues to being up here. But I think I learn something every game.”

Added Black: “Garrett’s adjusting, even though the batting average might not be where he wants it to be, or where it will potentially get to. But the at-bats are better. There is still a little bit of a chase in there that he probably wants to do away with on the high fastball and the low breaking ball.”

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Beating the shift. Facing an extreme shift by the Phillies in Thursday night’s game, Charlie Black bunted down the third-base line for a hit in the fifth inning. Black said that Blackmon bunted on his own and also said he’s open to more Rockies putting down a surprise bunt to beat the shift.

Footnotes. The Rockies have not announced their starter for Monday’s game against the Nationals at Coors Field. The most likely candidate is left-hander Tyler Anderson, who is ready to go after a stint on the injured list because of left knee inflammation. Black also said right-hander Chad Bettis is being considered. … When McMahon hit two home runs in Colorado’s 6-2 win Thursday night, he became the first player in team history to hit two or more home runs in his first game back from the injured list.

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Timeline: The search for Sol Pais, Florida teen “infatuated with Columbine”

April 19, 2019 - 5:45pm
Monday

Sol Pais arrives at Denver International Airport sometime during the morning and takes a rideshare to Colorado Gun Broker near Littleton to buy a shotgun and two boxes of ammunition.

Around 1:30 p.m., Pais’ cell phone pings off a tower near off of Interstate 70, near Exit 240 in Idaho Springs. Denver law enforcement have not learned about her at this point.

Sol Pais’ family in Miami contacts local police after she disappears.

Tuesday

Miami police call the local FBI office after learning Pais is “infatuated” with Columbine. Miami FBI agents call their Denver counterparts around mid-morning.

Denver FBI agents begin notifying local law enforcement, including the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, which has Columbine in its jurisdiction.

1:09 p.m.: The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office tweets that it is investigating what appears to be a credible threat involving schools. Multiple schools, including Columbine, are placed on lockout, meaning the doors are locked but normal school activities are happening.

2 p.m.: The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office begins searching around Mount Evans for Pais.

3:17 p.m.: The Colorado Department of Education issues a law enforcement bulletin, warning that Pais had come to Colorado, was seeking to arm herself, was “infatuated with Columbine” and was extremely dangerous.

3:21 p.m.: Jefferson County sheriff tweets that the FBI and its deputies are searching for Pais and that she is “armed & considered to be extremely dangerous.” They describe her as last seen wearing a black T-shirt, camouflage pants and black boots and in the foothills of Jefferson County.

5:05 p.m.: Jefferson County tells the media to call the FBI for information on Pais.

7:35 p.m.: Jefferson County says they are operating out of an abundance of caution and Pais’ threats are not isolated to one school or individual.

9:30 p.m.: The FBI holds a news conference to talk about the search for Pais and to attempt to relieve anxiety in the community. Special agent in charge Dean Phillips says school officials will have a 3 a.m. conference call to decide whether schools will be open on Wednesday.

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11:36 p.m.: Cherry Creek Schools tweets that classes are cancelled due to safety concerns and says the decision was made after a metro-area conference call. Other districts, including Jefferson County, Denver and even Fort Collins, follow suit.

Wednesday

9 a.m.: The Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office begins its search at Echo Lake Lodge as deputies work their way up the mountain.

10:28 a.m.: The FBI confirms there is an active investigation at the base of Mount Evans.

10:44 a.m.: The FBI announces on Twitter that there no longer is a threat to the community.

11:30 a.m.: The FBI confirms Pais is dead.

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Three men shot in Aurora barbershop; police looking for shooter

April 19, 2019 - 5:15pm

Three men were shot in an Aurora barbershop on Friday afternoon, and police are looking for the shooter.

CORRECTION location is 1405 South Havana St. https://t.co/cJXLwBbuqL

— Aurora Police Dept (@AuroraPD) April 19, 2019

All three men were taken to a hospital, said Anthony Camacho, a police spokesman.

The shooting happened about 5:15 p.m. at 1405 S. Havana St. on the second floor of an office building that houses a barbershop, Camacho said.

No immediate information on a suspect was released. Police are interviewing witnesses, Camacho said.

Further details on the men’s wounds were not available. Camacho could not say what led to the shooting.

Investigators believe the triple shooting is an isolated incident and that the public is not at threat.

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Denver Film Society director Andrew Rodgers steps down: “We thought it was time to go our separate ways”

April 19, 2019 - 5:09pm

Andrew Rodgers is stepping down as executive director of the Denver Film Society, a little more than three years after he was hired to lead the fast-growing nonprofit organization.

Andrew Rodgers

“In the wake of the tragedy this organization’s gone through, it’s been a really difficult time,” Rodgers told The Denver Post on Friday afternoon, referencing the loss of artistic director Brit Withey, who was killed in a single-car crash in southern Colorado on March 31. “This is an opportunity for the organization to really kind of reset and find a different momentum.”

Britta Erickson, longtime director of the Denver Film Festival, has been appointed as interim director of the film society following Rodgers’ departure. While a press statement described the parting as “amicable,” it added: “Ultimately, the agreement to part ways was based on differing visions regarding the long-term path for the organization.”

“Andrew has been a really great force in the organization in terms of what he did to get the Bloomberg Philanthropy money, and what he did to get our first-ever AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences) grant,” Erickson told The Post on Friday. “We had been trying to get that for a while and Andrew finessed it really well.”

The grants, totaling $360,000, arrived amid record growth in ticket sales and attendance for the Denver Film Festival in recent years, with sold-out houses and red-carpet visits from Hollywood stars including Emma Stone. Year-round box office grosses and membership revenues more than doubled under Rodgers’ watch — an extended period of success that does little to explain his departure.

Rodgers’ exit will not affect a lawsuit the Denver Film Society and three other independent exhibitors brought against national art-house chain Landmark Theatres. Filed in September 2017, the antitrust suit was given the go-ahead after an October ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where it was filed.

“That is something I’m going to have to immediately jump back into, but that was in process right as Andrew was starting,” Erickson said. “I went with one of our lawyers on our board to D.C. and I’ve had many conversations with law firms going back years, so that’s not something that I can’t deal with or don’t understand.”

Erickson has also acted as executive director of the film society in the past, as well as steering it through audits, writing grant applications and other essential duties of running the organization.

“As we turn our focus to what’s next, we have tremendous confidence in Britta, as well as the entire professional staff of our organization to keep us focused and on track as we begin our work to find a new executive director,” said board chairman Kevin Teng in a press statement.

In addition, the Denver Film Society’s board is actively looking for a new artistic director in the wake of Withey’s death, with programmer Matt Campbell filling in for the moment.

A public celebration of life for Withey has been planned for the Ogden Theatre — one of the original Denver Film Fest venues — at 1 p.m. May 11, Erickson said. Details are still being finalized with Withey’s family, but the event will include videos, photos from staff photographer Larry Laszlo and live music.

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“The outpouring of people who want to celebrate him is something we can’t accommodate in a single theater at the Sie FilmCenter,” Erickson said, referring to the film society’s home theater on East Colfax Avenue.

Rodgers said the Denver Film Society is in good hands, although he would not elaborate on the timing of Friday’s announcement or what exactly led to it.

“I’ve been really honored and privileged to have had the chance to lead this great team for three years,” said Rodgers, who does not have immediate plans for another job. “The organization is just reshaping itself and figuring out a way forward, and we thought it was time to go our separate ways. I really wish them nothing but the best.”

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Kiszla: For Nuggets to get back in playoff fight with San Antonio, they have to knock Derrick White on his keister

April 19, 2019 - 5:00pm

SAN ANTONIO – This NBA playoff series doesn’t start until the Nuggets knock San Antonio point guard Derrick White on his keister.

He wants to waltz into the lane for uncontested lay-ups? That’s fine. Slam-dance him to the court with a hard foul, then see if White bounces or splats.

“Our make-up ain’t … grimy,” Denver guard Monte Morris said Friday. He insisted thuggery isn’t in the Nuggets’ nature.

Well, my friend. The way I see it, Denver has two choices:

Get grimy. Or get eliminated from the playoffs, which is no place for polite and courteous Boy Scouts.

The Nuggets are soft. And wily, old San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich knows it.

While Denver management keeps sending video evidence of San Antonio’s moving screens and shots below the belt to the NBA, asking the league to tell the big, bad Spurs to quit being so mean, the message Nuggets coach Mike Malone finally sent to his team on the eve of Game 4 probably should’ve been delivered long before the playoffs began: Toughen up. Get physical. Don’t be afraid to commit a foul that hurts.

“How many times are you going to watch a guy just go to the basket for a lay-up?” said Malone. He was irked not only because White scored 36 points to lead San Antonio’s 118-108 victory in Game 3, but because the former CU Buffs guard penetrated Denver’s defense with impunity on 19 blow-by drives, by Malone’s count.

“Derrick White didn’t feel us (Thursday night). He woke up this morning, probably feeling very spry, because he had the easiest 36 points he’s ever had, and that can’t happen.”

When push comes to shove, is Denver willing to knock White down? The Nuggets are not the Bad Boys. What’s more, much of the violence has been legislated out of basketball, so it would be ill-advised for any team in 2019 to go all Bill Laimbeer on White. It would be self-destructive to fully recreate the havoc wreaked under the basket by those Bad Boys of Detroit 30 years ago, when Malone’s father, Brendan, was an assistant coach for the Pistons.

“This is a really fine line (and) I don’t want anything to be construed as, ‘Heh, we are going to play dirty.’ We’re not a dirty team. We don’t have that mentality. That’s just not who we are and the rules don’t allow that. Thank goodness,” Malone said.

“But you have to be willing to (deliver) a hard foul sometimes, because when a guy gets that comfortable … at some point, it becomes ridiculous.”

San Antonio has bullied its way to 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series, and along the way, LaMarcus Aldridge has smacked Denver guard Gary Harris in the crotch while big Spurs lug Jakob Poeltl has punctuated one of his illegal screens by sticking out a knee to nail Jamal Murray.

San Antonio is turning the Nuggets into taco meat. Chewing them up and spitting them out. Now, before the Go-Spurs-Go crowd spits out barbacoa to shout protest against a whining scribe from Colorado, let me add: I admire ornery, old Pop and the guys wearing black for not only getting Denver’s goat, but leaving five-day bruises.

At its best, basketball is a beautiful ballet. But what happens in the playoffs is often much rawer, and sometimes ugly. Before leaving Denver for two games in Texas, the naïve Nuggets packed for a picnic rather than a battle.

Denver has to stop fooling around in Game 4, or this series will be over before the Nuggets’ tears dry.

The next time White drives the lane for San Antonio?

“Send a message. Put him on the foul line. Make him earn it,” Malone said.

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Does Denver need to play dirty basketball? Heck, no. But do the Nuggets need to show they’re unafraid to get grimy? There’s no other choice.

Knock White down, help him up and greet the Spurs with a smile that shouts:

This fight is just getting started.

 

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New Denver police human trafficking unit aims to aid victims, prosecute perps

April 19, 2019 - 4:08pm

Denver police on Friday announced formation of a new team dedicated to combating human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a heinous crime involving the repeated exploitation of vulnerable individuals, and we are committed to arresting perpetrators, removing victims from these terrible situations and helping to provide victims the support they may need to recover,” said Chief Paul Pazen in a news release.

In Colorado, more than 30 percent of children who run away are recruited into sex trafficking within a 48-hour period, according to the Center for Public Policy Studies.

Globally, it’s estimated that 20 million girls and women are enslaved in the world’s $150 billion human trafficking trade.

The newly formed Denver Police Department Human Trafficking Team will consist of one sergeant and two detectives who will focus solely on complex investigations of human trafficking. The unit will partner closely with the Denver Police Victim Assistance Unit, the Denver district attorney’s office, and community-based victim services to combat human trafficking, as well as provide care and support to victims, the release stated.

“Stopping the trafficking of human beings requires a coordinated effort, which is why we are proud to partner with DPD’s Human Trafficking team,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said.

In 2018, the Denver Anti-Trafficking Alliance’s efforts were bolstered by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. Law enforcement officials aim to help victims and to “prosecute those who profit from exploiting others,” McCann said.

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Justin Simmons adapts to retooled Broncos secondary in minicamp

April 19, 2019 - 4:08pm

Safety Justin Simmons wrapped up voluntary minicamp this week, his third in a Broncos uniform, but the latest round sure felt like the first.

New system. New coaches. And, most notably, new players patrolling alongside him in Denver’s secondary. The Broncos parted ways with Bradley Roby, Tramaine Brock and Darian Stewart this offseason. Chris Harris remains absent in a contract holdout. It left Simmons with one defensive back teammate in minicamp, safety Will Parks, from his 2016 rookie season.

“It’s definitely tough,” Simmons said. “But you are excited about the people that are coming in.”

New coach Vic Fangio and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell are in the evaluation stages of Denver’s offseason program. Donatell described the training as “mental gymnastics” — even for Simmons, who enters his fourth NFL season with 32 career starts.

“There’s so much on a safety’s plate,” Fangio said. “He’s going to have to learn a new system now. There are a lot of areas to improve.”

A Simmons update after three days of minicamp practices?

“I thought he did a good job of picking it up,” Donatell said. “We’re excited to have him.”

One huge aid for Simmons and the entire Denver secondary is the free agent addition of cornerback Bryce Callahan from the Bears. Callahan played four seasons in Fangio’s scheme and thrived defending the slot receiver.

“Not only does he know this defense inside and out already, being in it for the most part of his whole career, but the level of play he’s bringing is big,” Simmons said. “He’s one of the top nickel corners in the league, especially last year. Having his presence and helping us learn this playbook is huge.”

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Denver also infused experience on the back-end by signing cornerback Kareem Jackson from Houston via free agency. Jackson spent all nine prior NFL seasons with the Texans and has 16 career interceptions.

“He’s like a Swiss Army Knife,” Simmons said. “A guy that does it all from safety, corner to nickel. He’s been in the league so long that he sees it and knows it. It’s just another utility.”

Simmons was arguably Denver’s most consistent presence last year. He played on every defensive snap (1,077) with a career high 97 tackles and three interceptions. Simmons believes his versatility will allow him to play a prominent role this year, no matter where positioned, in a quest to return atop the league’s defensive standings. Not just top-10, he reiterated.

“No. 1,” Simmons said. “A defense that will consistently show up throughout the season.”

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Rapids coach Anthony Hudson calls out his team. “We need some people to wake up.”

April 19, 2019 - 4:07pm

COMMERCE CITY — The Rapids have already made a lot of changes in an attempt to gain a victory. Through seven games, a win has still eluded them.

A stroll through their facility will let anyone know that they think this winless start is unacceptable. Colorado craves accountability and this week has been all about that.

During last Saturday’s 3-2 loss to D.C. United, a few yelling matches broke out on the field. At practice this week, it was more of the same — even coming from coach Anthony Hudson, who got after his squad.

“You have to see what each player or group needs. We need to be rattled and we need some people to wake up,” Hudson said Tuesday. “We need people to step up and start performing to their level. If it takes us being direct to hold people accountable, we’ll do it.”

Hudson did this with one of his favorite pupils, veteran center back Tommy Smith. Smith also let some of it go at left back Sam Vines, who also caught heat from goalkeeper Tim Howard.

“I think it’s good when they yell at you,” the 19-year-old Vines said. “You may have made a mistake but they care. They want you to get better and I embrace it. It helps me get better. If they yell at you all it means is they want to win.”

It’s actually a concerted effort by the Rapids leadership to both be more vocal and jolt the team from a sour stretch.

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“I pulled some senior players in this week and said this is a game we have to win,” Hudson said. “We have to improve psychology, we need more confidence, we need a stronger mentality.”

Hudson said lineup selection and being brutally honest is all a part of keeping players accountable. The coach has done both. When presented with a scoring outburst of late, Hudson mostly stuck to his strategy. The coach has opted for a team game rather than seeing if they can simply light up the scoreboard and hope it’s more than the opponent does.

In general, any minor successes the Rapids have come from cohesion, communication and confidence. They have noted that the issues are more mental in terms of holding onto leads and staying brave for a full 90 minutes.

Perhaps a perfect storm is forming for the Rapids to win in Chicago (11 a.m. Saturday). Still, Hudson does not want the public believing the match a must-win, just his players.

“I’ve said to the players that this is a game we have to win. It’s a must-win game we have to start winning and live with that pressure,” Hudson said. “We’ve done a lot of talking, no more talking. This needs to happen this week this is a must-win game, deal with it, show up this is what we’re doing.”

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Denver to provide $15.7 million for shelter, housing upgrades to help combat homelessness

April 19, 2019 - 3:56pm

Mayor Michael Hancock on Friday announced an effort to provide new housing options and expand shelter services for people experiencing homelessness.

Over the next few years, the city will put about $5 million to provide 400 “bridge housing vouchers” — funding for housing that people can use while they wait for a permanent home.

The effort also will put $10.7 million toward expanding Denver’s “day shelter” options. The city will work with nonprofits and charities to “bring people indoors during the daytime,” according to a news release.

Traditionally, shelters have focused on providing overnight places to stay. The push for daytime services is meant to connect people with services.

Denver is providing about $11 million of the total $15.7 million plan. The Anschutz Foundation has committed another $1 million, and the city is looking for donors for the remaining $4.5 million.

RELATED: Editorial: Vote “no” on Initiative 300 to keep Denver homeless camps safe and temporary

Roughly half of Denver’s money will come from its affordable housing fund, and the rest will come from its capital improvement and general funds. The city’s overall operating budget is $2.4 billion per year.

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The administration also plans to create a new Department of Housing and Homelessness, uniting previously separate teams, and to draft a new strategic plan for homelessness. Hancock said in a statement that housing is “a core city service,” similar to emergency services and public works.

The announcements come just after an auditor’s report that found Denver’s homelessness efforts are “fragmented and understaffed.”

The administration claims the changes were set in motion in 2017, when the city created a new housing office. The city also hired a chief housing officer last May.

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Nuggets coach Michael Malone mulling lineup change ahead of Game 4 vs. Spurs

April 19, 2019 - 2:51pm

SAN ANTONIO – Nuggets coach Michael Malone is considering “all options” when it comes to making a starting lineup change ahead of Saturday’s Game 4.

“We’ll continue to look at it,” Malone said on Friday, hours after his team dropped Game 3 and fell behind 2-1 in their first-round playoff series against San Antonio. “All options are on the board. Obviously it’s never about any individual, it’s gotta be about what’s best for our team.”

Small forward Will Barton has looked out of rhythm the entire series and would be the most likely starter replaced if Malone makes a change. After shooting 2 of 6 Thursday night, Barton is now 9 for 31 in the series.

Malone said he and his staff planned to meet Friday afternoon and assess their options.

“If we have to make a lineup change, we’ll do so,” he said. “If we stay with the same lineup, if we feel that will give us our best chance, we’ll stay. But no decision has been made yet.”

RELATED: Nuggets fan starts Change.org petition to bench Will Barton

The two options to replace Barton are Malik Beasley, who’s been an offensive sparkplug off the bench in this series, and defensive pest Torrey Craig. Beasley is averaging almost 13 points as a reserve and shooting 66 percent from the 3-point line in 22 minutes per game. Craig’s been sensational on the glass and as a versatile defensive ace. Denver, the eighth-best rebounding team in the regular season, has been beaten on the glass in all three games.

“That is kind of a catch-22 because both of those guys warrant more minutes and they both bring something different to the table,” Malone said, noting that both were on the floor when the Nuggets’ reserves reeled off a 16-0 run in the first half of Game 3.

“Torrey’s size and physicality, his hustle, like Torrey Craig was leaving it all on the floor, which I love,” Malone said. “And then Malik’s obviously shooting (well).  He’s been one of our best offensive players this whole series, shooting the ball very confidently. Attacking the basket and also playing pretty good defense. Both of those guys warrant more minutes, and I’m sure they’ll both get a great chance to play extended minutes tomorrow.”

Nuggets-Spurs series schedule

* If necessary

Questionable screen? Malone said the Nuggets sent at least one fourth-quarter play to the league office as a way of documenting questionable calls. Spurs center Jakob Poeltl appeared to stick his right leg out on a screen against Jamal Murray and caught Denver’s point guard in the quad.

Malone didn’t think the play was dirty, but he did think it should’ve warranted a whistle.

“Jakob Poeltl sets really good moving screens,” Malone quipped. “And he does it the whole game, and he gets away with it.”

After watching film, Malone’s point was that the Spurs conditioned the referees not to call it by setting tough screens the entire game, unlike what the Nuggets did.

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“More lenient with stuff like that if you’re doing it the whole series,” Nuggets guard Gary Harris said. “There was an instance where Paul (Millsap) set a screen, and it really wasn’t a moving screen but we weren’t setting screens the whole game, so the one time we set a real screen, they thought it was a moving screen.”

The Nuggets are moving on, but look for a much more aggressive, physical tone from Denver in Game 4.

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Safe2Tell reports prompt lockouts, lockdown, evacuations at Denver-area schools

April 19, 2019 - 2:36pm

Tips made through Safe2Tell Friday prompted lockouts, lockdowns and evacuations a day before the the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

via Google EarthBrighton High School

Carmody Middle School was placed on lockout early Friday afternoon after Lakewood Police received a tip through Safe2Tell that there was a person with a weapon on campus.

In a letter sent to parents, district officials said that while students were safe, police were continuing to search the grounds and would dismiss students once the investigation was complete. No weapon has been found so far.

At around 2:41 p.m., an official with the 27J School district, which serves 18,000 students in Brighton, Commerce City and Thornton, said Brighton High School was on lockdown and that all other schools within the district were on lockout after police received a report through Safe2Tell.

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Read more at thedenverchannel.com.

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Internationally renowned Beta Nightclub will return to Denver this summer — just months after closing

April 19, 2019 - 1:37pm

Denver’s internationally renowned Beta Nightclub, which shuttered at the beginning of the year, is set to reopen this summer — with an outdoor swimming pool in tow.

That’s according to published reports over the past couple weeks that have revealed owner and founder Brad Roulier has proposed building a fenced, inground pool on the club’s outdoor patio at the corner of 19th and Blake streets in Lower Downtown. The information was first reported by the Denver Business Journal.

Roulier tried to sell the club after closing it earlier this year but was unsuccessful, leading him to renovate and reopen, reporter Andrew Dodson wrote. Denver property records show that the building’s ownership rests with Boulder-based Colman Kahn.

A Lower Downtown Design Review Board initially recommended approving the pool — a trend familiar to Las Vegas visitors — because it would be installed on a lower patio and would not block existing views of the historically contributing building, according to a staff memo obtained by the Business Journal.

Calls and emails to Beta officials were not returned as of early afternoon Friday.

RELATED: Denver’s internationally renowned Beta Nightclub to “close the curtains” in 2019

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The timeline for “Beta 2.0,” as Beta’s founders are calling it in an EDM.com article, is late spring or early summer. Partners Roulier and Mike McCray told EDM.com they’re renovating the club at 1909 Blake St. with multiple, elaborate LED screens and lighting rigs, a new sound system and more.

Justin Martinez of Colorado-based Werker Studio will take care of the furniture and interior design of the new space, with plans for the DJ booth to move out of the upstairs lounge area. The outdoor patio will act as a second room in its place.

“We’ll almost have two different businesses,” Roulier told EDM.com. “We’ll have the daytime pool party staff and then the club. We had 107 employees before and now we’ll be open twice the hours, so we’ll probably be excess of 150-160 employees. We’re figuring out how the daytime pool party staff interacts with the evening staff and how we bridge those times.”

That’s crucial because the pool idea reportedly rankled Beta’s bread-and-butter dance-music fans by taking the focus off of the music and their hallowed temple of beats.

However, Roulier and McCray have renewed their lease for another 14 years, despite only shutting down the club in January after its 11-year run.

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Bearing Witness Podcast, Part 3: How the conversation has changed in the 20 years since Columbine

April 19, 2019 - 1:00pm

In a three-part series, The Denver Post examines the news coverage behind the Columbine High School shooting, with interviews from the people who were there and those affected by the tragedy.

BEARING WITNESS PODCAST: COLUMBINE AND THE NEWS MEDIA

In Part 3, “The Changing Conversation,” Amy Brothers and Kyle Newman delve into how the media landscape has changed since the tragedy and how news outlets have evolved in the way they cover such events. This includes discussion of the “No Notoriety” movement — a campaign drawn into sharp focus just this week after a Florida teen “infatuated with Columbine” flew into Denver on a one-way ticket and immediately bought a shotgun, prompting a “massive manhunt” that closed schools throughout the metro area.

Among those interviewed are former Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis, Denver Post reporter Kieran Nicholson, former Denver post visual journalist Shaun Stanley, Denver Post breaking news editor Noelle Phillips, Columbine football coach Andrew Lowry, current Columbine students Kaylee Tyner and Rachel Hill, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Steve Wyant, and author/researcher Jaclyn Schildkrout.

RELATED: What is it like being a current Columbine High School student? Homecoming prep, AP classes and state legislature testimonies

Bearing Witness is written by Newman, Brothers, and Katie Rausch, with editing help from Matt Schubert, Patrick Traylor, Matt Sebastian and Mario Sanelli. Special thanks to DeAngelis, Lowry, Schildrout, Nicholson, Stanley, Jeliker and Denver7 for the use of their archival footage.

Click here for more coverage of “Columbine: 20 years later.”

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Cale Makar bracing for first career NHL game in Calgary, his hometown

April 19, 2019 - 12:47pm

CALGARY, Alberta — Ahead of playing his third career NHL game Friday night against the team he grew up rooting for, Avalanche rookie Cale Makar felt at home.

The Calgary native traveled from Denver with his new team Thursday, and had dinner with teammates before meeting up with friends and family — many of whom are diehard Flames fans. (Makar’s parents are Flames season-ticket holders.)

“A lot of friends have reached out and told me who their alliance is, but, no, I know a lot of people are excited to come to the game tonight and watch in general,” Makar said.

Makar, 20, replaces the injured Sam Girard (upper-body) as Colorado looks to clinch its first playoff series since 2008 in Game 5. The Avs lead the first-round series 3-1, having won the last three games — the latter two with Makar in the lineup.

“It’s going to be pretty cool,” Makar said after the morning skate Friday at the Scotiabank Saddledome. “I haven’t been on this ice probably since I was 12 years old. So it’s going to be pretty special, (and) fun fighting for this group. Every game, the more experience you get, it’s going to be a confidence thing. Tonight is just going to be another step for me as an individual and hopefully improving.”

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar has faith in Makar. Girard skated in a red non-contact jersey Friday morning but appeared as if he was 100 percent. Bednar could be holding Girard out because he doesn’t want to change the lineup for a team that produced more than 50 shots in Games 3 and 4.

Girard, 20, is a special player in his own right, having finished second among Colorado defenseman with a career-high 27 points in the regular season. He played in all 82 games and was sixth on the club in average ice time (19:53).

But if Bednar added Girard to the lineup, he’d either have to scratch a stay-at-home defenseman in Patrik Nemeth or Nikita Zadorov or go with an extra defenseman (seven) and one fewer forward (11).

Given the way the Avs are playing, that decision is probably on hold.

“I think he’s a special kid and I think his game kind of speaks for itself,” Bednar said of Makar. “He played 14 (minutes) and change the first night, made an impact, and we ramped him up to about 20 (in Game 4) based on what we liked from his performance in game one and he continued it in game two. He was an impact player for us there. Didn’t seem like the moment rattled him at all. He’s going out and playing his game and having fun. That’s what we want him to do. He was great for us and I expect him to be the same tonight.”

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Makar said he hasn’t felt overly nervous because he spent the last month playing playoff hockey for the University of Massachusetts. The Minutemen lost in the Hockey East semifinals before advancing to the Frozen Four and playing for the NCAA title on Saturday against Minnesota-Duluth.

“It’s a fast pace (in college) and I think this is even faster. You just go with the flow,” Makar said.

Footnotes. Avs forward Derick Brassard did not participate in the morning skate and is expected to miss his third consecutive game with an illness. … Bednar said NHL all-star right winger Mikko Rantanen will again start on the second line with center Carl Soderberg but also will play with fellow all-stars Nathan MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog on the top line.

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Denver weather: Has the metro area seen its last snow of the season?

April 19, 2019 - 12:35pm

We’re not trying to jinx things here, summer lovers. We promise.

But, there are a few signs that Denver’s last measurable snowfall of the 2018-19 winter season could be in the rearview mirror.

According to the National Weather Service in Boulder, the next seven days show little in the way of snow chances, though there’s an outside chance a storm on Sunday and Monday could bring a little wet snow. Beyond that, Denver and much of the state appears poised for a warmup that should last into the early portion of May.

Denver’s average last measurable snowfall is on April 27, and with snow looking unlikely in the foreseeable future, it’s looking more and more likely that you’ve shoveled the driveway for the last time this winter.

RELATED: How official weather observation measurements differ at DIA, downtown Denver and Stapleton

Measurable snowfall means that snowfall at Denver International Airport has to pile up to the tune of a tenth of an inch or greater. In other words, a few snowflakes fluttering through the sky and melting on your windshield don’t officially count as a measurable snowfall.

Of course, this all comes with the normal Denver weather-related caveats. Seven of the past 13 winters have featured measurable snowfall in May, almost always in the month’s opening fortnight. Memorial Day might be known to most as the unofficial start of summer, but in Denver and along the Front Range, it’s usually the day that you can — finally — safely stash away the snow shovels in the back of the garage.

In case you’re just joining us, Denver’s weather is notoriously wild and unpredictable — we’ve had measurable snow as late as June 5 and as early as Sept. 3 — and Mother Nature has a tendency to act in especially mysterious ways around the Front Range.

But, overall, signs are pointing to Denver’s last snow of the winter likely having come from the kind of/sort of bomb cyclone earlier this month. If that’s indeed the case, Denver will officially finish with below average snowfall for the third consecutive winter — though that number may be a tad misleading. Through Thursday, Denver had accumulated 43.2 inches of total snow this season, a few inches off the official full winter average of about 57 inches. Since 2006, though, Denver International Airport has averaged about 49 inches per winter, so this winter’s total is within striking distance of both numbers.

If Denver’s final snow total does indeed finish around 43 or 44 inches, that’d be close to what Denver’s seen in the last two winters combined. That, however, is more of a statement about how horrific the last two winters were snow-wise, rather than a reflection of how much snow we actually saw in 2018-19.

In short, this was a near-normal snowfall winter for the immediate Denver metro area, thanks to an active February and March. The mountains, however — where snow matters far more for both filling up the state’s crucial reservoirs, as well as for ski-related tourism reasons — received much more snow than usual. That’s really good news for the state, particularly after a rough few winters.

Chris Bianchi is a meteorologist for WeatherNation TV.

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Man who punched 2 people while yelling racial epithets in Denver faces up to 15 years in prison on hate-crime conviction

April 19, 2019 - 11:55am

A man who punched and kicked two people while yelling racial epithets faces up to 15 years in prison after a Denver jury convicted him of a hate crime.

Denver District Attorney's OfficeRyan Austin Lee

Ryan Austin Lee, 43, was convicted of two counts of assault and two counts of bias-motivated crimes for a 2018 incident in which he reached into a car window to punch the driver, then pulled down and kicked a passenger trying to leave the scene, all while yelling racial epithets.

At the time of the 2018 assaults, he was on suspended judgment for chasing a biracial couple and their 7-year-old son around Denver’s Garfield Park with a hammer, also while yelling epithets, in 2017.

Lee’s sentencing is set for May 3. The hate crime conviction raises the assaults from misdemeanors to felonies, each punishable by up to six years in prison. He also faces up to three years for menacing the family in Garfield Park, because the court revoked his suspended judgment in that case after his latest conviction.

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Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a news release that hate crimes can be more difficult to prove because the jury must be in agreement on the defendant’s motive.

“Hate crimes are criminal expressions of bigotry that terrorize the entire community,” she said. “We are pleased that the jury agreed with us that these crimes were racially motivated.”

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