DENVER (KDVR) — The killing of a Denver community leader has her neighbors asking police and lawmakers some tough questions about the emergency response to her death.

Ma Kaing was killed after a bullet struck her as she put away her groceries on a Friday night earlier this month. Police want the community’s help solving Kaing’s death. Denver Police announced that there is now a reward of up to $10,000 from Metro Denver Crime Stoppers for information about her killing, but the community is not satisfied with how police handled the response.

Ma Kaing
Ma Kaing was shot and killed by a stray bullet on Friday, July 15, 2022, outside her home in Denver. (Credit: Michelle Christiance)

Kaing’s loss was one of several in recent months for neighbors, friends and relatives in the East Colfax neighborhood. Her son made strong remarks at a community meeting on Wednesday, asking what will be done for the neighborhood once things cool down.

“What will happen then? Are you guys going to leave again and do nothing about it until there’s another shooting?” John Kyaw Lin said.

Not only are community members asking for more monitoring, but several said police have also been slow responding to calls in the area, including in Kaing’s shooting. Others say calls they placed for response in Denver have been rerouted to Aurora.

Denver 911 responds to claims of long delay after Kaing’s shooting

Denver emergency responders admitted something does need to change. Denver 911 Director Andrew Dameron said the initial investigation into the 911 calls in Kaing’s shooting is complete.

“We have investigated each one of those claims and we found no evidence of any of them beyond hold times when dialing 911. Hold times across the country, even internationally, right now we are struggling because our staffing is so low,” Dameron said.

“But according to the data we have in our computer-aided dispatch software and our phone software, we received the information within seconds. So the first 911 call that was dialed went to Aurora 911. It was misrouted because of how 911 calls are routed. They began transferring it to us. While they were transferring it to us, they did get our hold message,” Dameron continued.

“So what they did is they got on the radio. We have an intercom channel between Denver 911 and Aurora 911 so our dispatch teams can talk to each other. They told us right away that they had a shooting at 1313 Xenia that they were trying to transfer over. The dispatcher was then able to tone that information to all the police officers in the area and get them going. And as a result, from the time we were notified of the shooting, police were on scene in 5 minutes and 16 seconds,” Dameron said.

911 solutions needed at state, federal levels

As for solutions, the 911 director said the biggest correction needs to happen at the federal and state levels.

“911 calls, traditionally, have been routed based on the address of the nearest cell tower to you when you dial 911,” Dameron explained. “The two solutions that exist are for the FCC to mandate location-based routing for all cell carriers. The other potential solution is to implement a statewide routing solution where all the 911 authorities in the state would come together to implement a statewide program.”

But that fix will not necessarily be an easy one. It could take some significant funding in the state’s budget, as well as some time to get up and running.

Dameron said Verizon has not implemented new technology that uses mobile device location to better direct 911 calls. He said at least three of the 911 calls that were routed to Aurora came from Verizon lines. He said Verizon is working to investigate what happened and create solutions.

Some community members who had issues placing calls after Kaing was shot said they were not using Verizon phones but other carriers, like T-Mobile, that use location-based services.