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DENVER — Two men are in critical condition after a shooting involving an officer and a security guard in downtown Denver early Sunday morning, the Denver Police Department said.

It happened just after 1 a.m. near 14th and Curtis streets. Police said the suspect fired at least eight shots, taking aim at a crowd outside a nightclub.

Those who live and work down in the area say this is becoming all too familiar.

“Denver’s a small place and it shouldn’t be this crazy,” said Gina Wishart, who lives above where the shooting happened.

This time, a fight between two groups of people escalated on the street outside the Auraria Student Lofts.

“The private security guard that is hired there had went and made an attempt to break up this altercation. He used a chemical agent,” Denver police Cmdr. Ron Saunier said.

An off-duty police officer working across the street at Epernay Lounge was called over.

“At that point, one of those two parties pulled out a handgun and began firing the handgun in the direction where the disturbance had been and back toward that club,” Saunier said.

“There wasn’t hardly any panic at all believe it or not,” said Spencer Slama, another student who also lives in the area where the shooting took place.

Police said orders to drop the weapon went unheeded.  The officer and the security guard drew their guns, opening fire and hitting both men.

“I believe we are extremely fortunate that we didn’t have anybody hit by the number of rounds that the suspect was firing prior to the officers engagement,” Saunier said.

“It speaks to the carelessness of some people. People are very cavalier in how they live their lives,” Slama said.

Gunshots, he said, are a normal occurrence in an area that prides itself on being safe.

“I’m just kind of worried about the downtown area in particular,” Slama said. “It sheds a bad light on us as a city.”

“Yeah, I won’t be here much longer,” Wishart said.

Police said both men involved in the shooting, who are brothers, are in critical condition but are expected to survive. The one identified as the shooter is expected to face several felony charges. He is 40 years old but his name has not be released.

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