Safety questioned on 16th Street Mall after another violent attack

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DENVER -- Another stabbing near the 16th Street Mall is raising more concerns about safety along one of Denver’s top tourist attractions.

It’s the second stabbing there in a matter of weeks. City leaders were asked what they are doing to keep safe the thousands of people who visit the mall each day.

“We too are concerned about the recent uptick in challenges and issues we’ve been seeing on the mall,” Denver Police Commander Tony Lopez said.

The latest challenge happened early Sunday morning when a man was stabbed during a fight with two men and a woman. Three weeks earlier, a couple eating dinner on a restaurant patio were attacked by more than a dozen teens.

“I got dog-piled, punched in the face,” said the victim who didn’t want to be identified.

A good Samaritan trying to help was also stabbed in the head in that incident. It took police 14 minutes to get there, a delay that is still under investigation. But the violence led police to fight back.

“I have additional resources we are putting in there, plainclothes and uniformed officers in areas getting the majority of complaints and concerns,” Lopez said.

Officers are pulled from other areas to make sure they are there when crime flares up in the evening and early mornings. Officers also are proactively monitoring halo cameras for crime and suspicious activities so cops can immediately follow up.

“We had plenty of resources on the mall. We were able to respond almost instantaneously,” Lopez said about Sunday’s stabbing.

The changes helped police respond within a minute to the attack.

“If we can’t provide safety, then we are in trouble as a city,” Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks said.

His district encompasses the mall and he has been critical of the scant police presence. But now he is hopeful about the changes.

“We are still, at a macro level, one of the safest cities in America. So we need to look at this issue with a long view and say we are actually doing a good job. But we are starting to see these most violent offenses,” he said.

The plan is to nip it in the bud. Brooks also said the city council and the mayor meet on a weekly basis to talk about mall safety.

Police did identify suspects in the beating of the couple a few weeks ago but said the couple didn’t want to prosecute. Police are still looking for the suspects who stabbed the good Samaritan in that case.

They’re also still interviewing witnesses and victims in Sunday’s stabbing.

Besides reviewing halo camera videos, they’d like to see any videos shot by witnesses.