The Boulder Police Department responded to multiple disturbances across the city during the holiday weekend involving a shootout, the brandishing of weapons, fires, fireworks, and near riots that necessitated calling in the Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT) and off-duty officers to manage calls for service.
Overall, between 12 p.m. and 12 a.m. on July 4, the Boulder Police Department received:
- 152 calls for service
- 64 of these were for fireworks (which could include multiple calls to the same area)
The department increased staffing with off-duty personnel to address fireworks calls. Based on the community needs, supervisors also made the additional decision to hold over officers from previous shifts to provide even more coverage for the city. This meant many officers worked more than 14-hour shifts.
The first incident began in the University Hill neighborhood around 4 p.m. on Monday, July 4, when officers responded to a residence in the 700 block of 17th Street for a noise complaint. The resident was given a warning to lower the noise or shut down the party. At 5:30 p.m., officers received another call for a noise complaint at the same address. The resident was told to shut down the party, and people began to leave. The crowd of approximately 100 to 200 individuals began to gather in the street and set off fireworks, sometimes throwing or aiming them in the direction of passing vehicles. They also lit bushes on fire and jumped on cars.
Boulder Police SWAT, which actively trains in the best practices of crowd management, was activated to safely disperse the disturbance as well as conduct a show of force in assisting Patrol officers. Due to their quick response, there was not widespread property damage or riotous conditions.
Between 8 and 9 p.m. while officers were responding to the above, an argument occurred between partygoers at 14th and Aurora and an unknown male pulled out an AR15 style rifle. Officers later discovered the male fired the gun after a community member called the next day to report finding shell casings. Officers responded and collected 11 shell casings. After the shots were fired, a physical fight ensued. The three suspect(s) left the scene in a vehicle described as a dark blue BMW or Mercedes.
A short time later, officers received a call about a burglary occurring down the street from the party in the 800 block of 17th Street. Officers arrested two adult males on charges of second-degree burglary in connection to that crime. Detectives do not believe these are the same individuals involved in the firearm altercation. As previously released, officers also cited the adult male for having a nuisance party.
During this same period, officers not involved with the above incidents were responding to numerous noise and fireworks calls as well as fights at three local restaurants and a report of a man firing a gun near the Penfield Tate II Municipal Building at 1777 Broadway.
At approximately 9:30 p.m., two officers responded to North Boulder Park at 9th and Balsam streets to investigate reports of juveniles setting off fireworks. They spoke with several teens lighting off fireworks and when they tried to cite a 16-year-old, he ran away. When the teen stopped and officers began to arrest him, a group of more than 100 juveniles surrounded the officers. Additional officers arrived and stabilized the scene. Officers issued a citation to the teen and released him to his parents.
Throughout the night, officers responded to large crowds, reportedly up to 200 individuals, setting off fireworks in the park. Officers staged and monitored the growing crowds until enough officers were able to safely disperse everyone by 1 a.m. This action required more than a dozen officers.
On Tuesday morning, July 5, officers were called to a report of dozens of shell casings found in the street at the intersection of 14th and Euclid. Further investigation revealed that neighbors witnessed a shootout between at least three individuals firing guns at each other and in the air around 1:15 a.m., but no one called police to report the gunfire.
Ultimately there were nearly 70 shell casings and two live rounds found at the scene. That investigation remains ongoing.
"We understand the community’s frustration. I myself was frustrated by the criminal behavior of these individuals here in our city. However, we had to prioritize calls for service based on reports of violence, property crime and officer safety concerns for over 12 hours,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said. “Due to the professional response of the Boulder Police Department, including the SWAT team, there was only one reported injury and no officers were injured.”
Anyone with any information related to these crimes is asked to call Dispatch at 303-441-3333. Those who have information but wish to remain anonymous may contact the Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips may also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at https://nococrimestoppers.com