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Sunday, 21 December 2008

Nine members of the Crips street gang have been indicted on charges they burned down the Holly Shopping Center

22:07 |

Nine members of the Crips street gang have been indicted on charges they burned down the Holly Shopping Center in retaliation for the murder of local Crips founder Michael Asberry, possibly by someone from a rival street gang. The area around the center, also known as Holly Square, at 3365 Holly St., was a hangout for Bloods gang members. Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said at a news conference Friday morning that he had no doubt the indictment of the nine — eight of whom were arrested Thursday — will impact the Crips. "Anytime we do an indictment of this number of people, it is going to have an impact on any kind of street gang," he said. According to the indictment, a confrontation between the Crips and Bloods occurred at the Bash Night Club, 1902 Blake St., when it closed in the early hours of May 18. Asberry had been killed early on May 17 outside an Aurora apartment building by a still-unknown assailant. After the confrontation at Bash, a number of the Crips went to a 7-Eleven store and talked about burning down the Holly Shopping Center because of the killing of Asberry and because the Holly was "known as Bloods' turf," said the indictment. At the 7-Eleven, the group bought drinks in bottles, which they filled with gasoline to make Molotov cocktails. They drove to the shopping center, stuffed rags in the bottles, lit the rags and threw the bottles onto the roof, Morrissey said. The fire burned six businesses and leveled the shopping center. The damage was more than $2 million, the district attorney said.
Morrissey and Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman said the arson was captured by a camera at a nearby library. Morrissey said the video showed that one of the Molotov cocktails rolled off the roof and hit the head of the person who threw it, causing his head to catch fire. Although that individual can't be identified, Morrissey said other surveillance cameras and photographs are "very helpful." Investigators said the case was broken on May 20 when Denver police Cpl. Dan Andrews pulled over a GMC conversion van in the 1400 block of East 37th Avenue for a tail-light violation and smelled gasoline coming from the van. The driver was identified as Katsina Roybal, one of the Crips suspected in the Holly fire. Two other Crips — Mitchell Walker and James Burleson — were passengers. The people accused of throwing the Molotov cocktails are Burleson, 20; Deangelo Calaway, 19; Mario Jennings, 19; Walker, 18; and Jimmy Hopkins, 22. Roybal, 19; David Tinsley, 22; Corsia Crosby, 20; and Marquis Jones, 22, acted as lookouts, according to the grand jury indictment.

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