A right-wing protester was killed in a violent confrontation that took place amid dueling protests in downtown Denver, Colorado, Saturday, and a private security guard, hired by a local news organization, is being held on murder charges.
The incident, 9News Denver reports, took place as a “Patriot Rally” and an “Antifa/BLM Soup Drive” faced off near the Denver Civic Center late Saturday afternoon. Although both protests began peacefully, tensions quickly escalated between the opposing groups — tensions which eventually led to the deadly shooting.
According to witnesses, Antifa/BLM protesters were engaging in a war of words with Patriot Rally attendees when a Patriot Rally marcher, apparently concerned for his own safety, deployed a can of “bear spray” against another individual, who was providing private security for the 9News crew on the ground covering the events. The security guard fired at the Patriot Rally protester in response, killing him.
“A private security guard is being held as a suspect in a deadly shooting near the Denver Art Museum, according to the Denver Police Department (DPD),” 9News, the organization that hired the private security firm, wrote Sunday. “The private security guard in custody was contracted through Pinkerton by 9NEWS. It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to contract private security to accompany staff at protests.”
The outlet notes that “DPD originally took two people into custody and later found the second individual, a 9NEWS producer who works in the investigative unit, was not involved in the incident. The producer is no longer in police custody and is not a suspect.”
The shooter was originally identified as being an Antifa/BLM protester, but those reports turned out to be false. Neither the police nor 9News has released identifying information about the shooter other than to note he was hired to provide security and was on the job when the deadly incident happened. Internet sleuths were working hard throughout the night to uncover names and affiliations, but none of their discoveries have been confirmed.
Denver Police were able to piece together the incident using security footage. The victim was shot in the head and was transported to a hospital where he later died.
Both groups present for the event initially said they planned non-violent demonstrations, but both acknowledged that the dueling protests could turn violent. The Patriot Rally was scheduled to take place first; the BLM/Antifa “soup drive,” heavily advertised on social media, was designed to “drown out” the earlier event.
Denver Police warned rally-goers early Saturday that violence by either party would not be tolerated.
“The Denver Police Department respects the right to peacefully assemble,” the police department said in a statement. “Those who participate in protests, demonstrations, marches, or other gatherings, as protected by the First Amendment, are reminded to do so in a lawful manner. Individuals who choose to act outside of local, state, and federal law, will be subject to citation or arrest.”
This is at least the third violence incident to take place following a confrontation between suspected members of “Antifa” and “patriotic” protesters. Three people were killed in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last month after violence broke out between anti-racism demonstrators and an armed teenager who had traveled to the state to help protected targeted property. A Trump supporter was stalked, attacked, and killed by a self-described member of Antifa after dueling rallies in Portland last month.