The Rev. Marshall Gourley was feeling pretty hopeful about his fast to protest violence until he learned a 4-year-old parishioner had been critically wounded in a drive-by shooting.
And then a 3-year-old was hit by stray gunfire while he played on the porch of his aunt's home."Discouraged? No. I'm a person of faith and hope. Disappointed, saddened and maybe even a little angry, of course," the 44-year-old priest said Wednesday. "Yesterday seemed a lot more hopeful to me than today."
A spasm of violence has left Denver reeling since early May. Some crimes were gang-related, but increasingly the victims have been targets of random violence. Residents are demanding answers. Politicians are pushing for stricter laws.
"We have been having a lot of gang shootings for a number of years," police Lt. Gary Leuthauser said. "When gang members were shooting at each other, people generally weren't really concerned. When innocent people started getting hit, there is more of a concern."
- Ignacio Fabian Pardo, 11 months, was hit in the face by a stray bullet while he watched the polar bears at the Denver Zoo in May.
- Broderick Bell, 6, was critically wounded when he was caught in gang crossfire outside his home June 9.
- Michael Barela, 4, and his two brothers were riding in the back seat of the family car Monday, heading home from his grandmother's house in the suburbs, when a car pulled alongside at a light. A gunman fired at least two shots and fled, leaving Michael with a bullet lodged in his spine.
- Andrew Cordova, 3, was playing on the porch when he was hit in the arm by stray gunfire from about 150 yards away Tuesday.
Gourley, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, has gone without solid food since July 5 to draw attention to the violence.
"People are fed up. Public opinion is clamoring for some effective control of this," he said.
After Broderick was wounded, Mayor Wellington Webb ordered a crackdown on gangs but admitted, "It's going to have to be a long, sustained campaign."
"I think that the people of Denver and the people of the Denver metropolitan area are going to have to do something that I think was really not done initially in Los Angeles and say, `We're not going to run and we're going to stand our ground,"' he said.
The city plans to hunt down gang leaders, shut down drug houses and put special police "impact cars" on the streets around the clock to fight violence. The program will cost $1.1 million in police overtime for the year.
The mayor said he also wants stricter gun control, better summer job programs for young people and maximum penalties for drug-related offenses and violent crimes.