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GANG LINK PROBED IN MALL SHOOTING

Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Thursday, June 23, 2005
Author/Byline: Hector Gutierrez, Javier Erik Olvera And Felix Doligosa, Rocky Mountain News Staff writers Clayton Woullard and John Aguilar contributed to the story.
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 4A
Detectives are looking into the possibility that gang members were involved in a confrontation inside the Aurora Mall that left a young woman dead and two others wounded, the interim police chief said Wednesday.

Christopher J. Taylor, of Denver, and Gregory K. Holiday, of Boulder, both 20, were arrested Tuesday night shortly after the shooting that killed Krystal D. Martinez, 19.

At least three witnesses fingered Taylor as the lone gunman who opened fire on Martinez and her companion, Kyle D. Boyd, 23, detectives stated in their report.

Taylor is being held in the Arapahoe County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. Holiday is being held on a firearms offense.

Martinez died at the scene from a head wound; Boyd, also shot in the head, remained in the intensive care unit in critical condition at the Medical Center of Aurora.

A third victim, Susan Holyfield, 48, said Wednesday she was shopping alone and climbing stairs when she heard three or four shots then realized she had been hit in the arm.

Holyfield said she saw one of the victims lying on the floor after the gunfire ended.

Boyd and Martinez were walking out of a store about 7:30 p.m. when they encountered two men and an argument broke out.

Interim Police Chief Terry Jones said his detectives were trying to determine whether Taylor and Holiday and at least one of the victims are involved in street gangs. The chief said investigators were questioning witnesses but that a motive likely won’t be known until Boyd can talk.

More details emerged Wednesday about the shooting and capture of the two suspects.

Witnesses said Martinez tried to restrain Boyd by pulling at his clothes and pleading with him as he struggled up a staircase to get at one of the men.

One witness told detectives he saw two men arguing on the lower level. A man wearing a white shirt went up the stairs, reached into his waistband or pocket and pulled out a handgun before firing about nine shots down the stairwell, detectives said.

A second witness told detectives she was on the lower level when she saw two men arguing. A woman was trying to pull one of the men away and told him to “let it go,” the witness said. But the man who was being pulled by the woman responded that he was “wanting to go” after the other man, the witness told detectives.

The man with the white shirt went to the upper level and made an obscene hand gesture at the other man, who was still below, the witness told detectives.

The witness said that seconds later, she heard gunshots and saw a man holding his face and bleeding.

A third witness told detectives she was on the upper level of the mall when she saw a man leaning over the railing and arguing with a man on the lower level.

The witness said she then saw the man pull a black handgun from his waistband and fire about five shots over the rail.

Detectives later recovered seven

9 mm shell casings at the scene.

After receiving 911 calls of shots fired, officers converged on the mall, 14200 E. Alameda Ave., where an off-duty Aurora officer was working.

A police sergeant chased Taylor on foot in the southwest parking lot and allegedly saw him dump a handgun in some bushes. A 9 mm handgun that had been emptied of ammunition was found in the bushes, detectives said.

Another officer saw Holiday in the parking lot, and he also began running. Holiday ran on South Abilene Street, which runs alongside Interstate 225, until another officer pulled his cruiser in front of him.

One officer reported seeing Holiday throw a handgun just before he was handcuffed. A .380-caliber semi- automatic pistol was recovered nearby, according to the report.

After their arrests, the three witnesses allegedly identified Taylor as the shooter and the one wearing a white shirt, detectives wrote.

Both Holiday and Taylor have police records, mostly involving misdemeanors. Taylor has one felony drug charge on his record, but the disposition in the case was not known.

According to court records, Boyd, the wounded man, pleaded guilty in 2000 to a count of menacing in a case in which he originally was charged with attempted murder.

The Arapahoe County district attorney dismissed counts of attempted murder, conspiracy, attempted aggravated robbery and second-degree assault. Boyd received a four-year suspended sentence and three years of supervised probation.

Meantime, business at the mall appeared normal Wednesday.

Near the shooting scene, workers repaired the broken glass walls of the stairs. The Champs Sports store, where the altercation may have started, was closed.

Customer Tonya Pettigen said she is never again going to drop off her 14-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son at the 30-year-old shopping center. She also told her oldest child, who works at Sears inside the mall, to find another job.

However, shop owners and employees said the mall is safe.

“There’s always security here,” said Kelly Boudreau, who has worked at Colorado Hat Co. for four years.

Memo: Headline p.1A – SUSPECT NAMED IN KILLING AT MALL; GANG LINK PROBED / 2nd man faces gun charge.
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