Monday, June 25, 2012

"We will not surrender this city"

Out-standing Police Officer Murdered In Cold Blood, Gang Member Arrested
Re-printed from a story at WXYZ Channel 7 on Jube 25th 2012

A well-respected female police officer was killed when she was shot in the head in a public park in Denver.

DENVER, CO. - Denver police identified the police officer shot and killed at City Park in Denver Colorado on Sunday night, June 23rd 2012, as a 32-year-old single mother and the president of the Denver Black Officers Organization. Celena Hollis was shot in the head while trying to break up a fight during the free weekly jazz concert in the park.

Denver's police chief said officers arrested 21-year-old Rollin Michael Oliver for investigation of first-degree murder. He is being held without bond. He was in possession of a weapon when he was arrested, said Denver's police chief, Robert White, wearing a black band on his badge.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said Hollis was a single mother in Denver, raising a 12-year-old daughter, and was well known in the department.

"We have lost a dedicated officer to this city, a leader in the department, in this city," Hancock said. "Let me second what the chief has asked, that we all pray for the family of Officer Hollis, that we all pray for this community, that we all pray for this department."

"She was a very pleasant, extremely pleasant, polite officer. She had a phenomenal reputation," White said.

Hollis had spent seven years in the Denver Police Department and was an officer on the police force in Detroit before she transferred in October 2005.

"She served as a patrol officer in District Two and was a member of the Street Crime Attack Team (SCAT). She used her Critical Incident Training skills to de-escalate several hostile and potentially violent incidents, including successfully assisting an Iraqi war veteran who suffered from PTSD. Officer Hollis has been recognized numerous times for her outstanding performance and service to the community," according to an online bio on the Denver Police Department's website. "She was an amazing person with an engaging smile who was well liked and respected by her colleagues and the community she served. She will be missed."

Hollis was one of six off-duty, uniformed officers working the festival on Sunday. It was her fourth time working this venue.

Celina Hollis DPD KIAThe park remained closed Monday morning as investigators looked for evidence. The officer was trying to break up a fight between two groups of gang members and, "Somebody came out firing their weapon (and) the officer was struck in the head," said Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson.

"We were just sitting here listening to the music, and all of a sudden we saw everybody running, saying, 'Everybody get down. Everybody get down," said a woman who attended the concert with her two young daughters.

"We first thought it was a fight. But everybody was running, saying, 'Somebody got shot," the woman said. The officer was rushed to Denver Health Medical Center where she was pronounced dead, Jackson said.

Our Scripps station in Denver was at the hospital when an ambulance carrying the mortally wounded officer arrived, escorted by more than a dozen patrol cars. Samuel Bell, 19, of Denver, said he was in the parking lot looking for a space for his scooter, which police later cordoned off with yellow tape. He said he heard several shots.

"We just arrived at the park. It was crowded, it was looking fun," Bell said. "And then 'pa- pa-pa-pa' outta nowhere.

"We just ducked," Bell said. "We pulled off in enough time to get away. It was crazy."

Bell also said he saw police officers administering CPR on the uniformed officer as she laid on the pavement. He estimated he was about 10 to 20 feet away from where the officer was shot.

The police chief asked anyone who witnessed anything to come forward to help them with their investigation and put the pieces of the puzzle together.

"There were thousands of individuals that were at the festival last night. We're asking anyone who saw anything … remotely, please come forward and provide that information," White said. "While we have made an arrest, this is still very much an ongoing investigation and we would greatly, greatly appreciate any information that could help us put the pieces together as it relates to this."

More than 1,000 people were at the City Park Jazz concert, the fourth of 10 shows scheduled for this summer in the annual series that draws families and people of all backgrounds to one of the city's more popular summer events.

Denver's mayor vowed to continue to hold public events such as the annual Jazz in the Park festival and to make sure they remained safe.

"We will not surrender this city or what we consider special to this city to anyone, and we'll do everything we can to make sure people feel safe and enjoy that event and all events that take place in the spring and summer of this great city of ours," Hancock said.

Police said anyone with information about the officer's slaying can anonymously call Denver Metro Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867 or they can text CRIMES (274637) with the subject title DMCS and enter the message; or email: metro-denvercrimestoppers.com.

References:
WXYZ Channel 7, Former Detroit Police Officer Celena Hollis shot to death on duty in Denver
Denver Post, Denver Police Officer Slain
KUSA Channel 4, Denver Office Killed In City Park
Huffington Post, Celena Hollis, Denver Police Officer, Dead After Shooting At City Park Jazz Concert