The July 13 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and related activities constitute the most high-profile events in Denver since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the national headlines related to the spectacle this past weekend were largely focused on the foiling of a potential Las Vegas-style mass shooting connected to the contest.
Trouble is, there’s no evidence that such an attack was actually planned. The rumors appear to have been triggered by some impolitic statements by law enforcement sources to a local TV station, whose coverage forced local officials into cover-your-ass mode.
The Denver Police Department didn’t even tweet about the initial incident on July 9, when the bust occurred. But at 8:32 p.m. on Saturday, July 10, the DPD issued a release with the subject line “Update on Weapons, Narcotics-Related Arrests Friday Night.” According to that notice, on the evening of July 9, officers responded to the Maven Hotel, at 1850 Wazee Street, “on a report of a suspicious occurrence.” Shortly thereafter, search warrants were obtained to search two rooms where evidence was recovered. Additionally, two vehicles were impounded and three men and one women were arrested.
The department’s identification of the arrestees and the charges against them:
Richard Platt (DOB 1/26/79): Investigation of Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender, Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute (two counts), and a warrant from another jurisdiction
Gabriel Rodriguez (DOB 10/2/72): Investigation of Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender, Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute
Ricardo Rodriguez (DOB 9/9/76): Investigation of Possession of a Weapon by a Previous Offender
Kanoelehua Serikawa (DOB 11/22/77): Investigation of Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute, and a warrant from another jurisdiction
The summary made no mention of the All-Star Game, but Denver7 sure as hell did. Citing “multiple informed law enforcement sources connected with the investigation,” the station led with this in a report on July 10: “Police feared a ‘Las Vegas-style shooting’ during the All-Star Game in Denver after receiving a tip from a housekeeper working at a hotel not far from Coors Field. The hotel employee discovered more than a dozen weapons and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition inside one of the rooms Friday night.”
It’s no surprise that the possibility of an All-Star Game connection might have occurred to investigators; law enforcement agencies are on high alert because of the MLB’s activities in this town. And the Maven is just a little over a block from Coors Field, though the hotel doesn’t provide a direct sightline into the stadium. In contrast, the hotel room where the gunman set up on October 1, 2017, in Las Vegas directly overlooked the site of the Route 91 Harvest music festival, at which sixty people were killed and 411 were wounded, with hundreds of additional injuries caused by the panic that ensued.
In its initial piece, Denver7 cited a Facebook post from one of the suspects “referencing a recent divorce and saying he was going to ‘go out in a big way.'” Although no more information on that post emerged, subsequent reports about Richard Platt noted that his arrest history includes lots of offenses involving drug and weapon charges.
By 11:07 a.m. on Sunday, July 11, the rumors had gotten so far out of control that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s local office issued a release of its own. After noting that the FBI is coordinating with the Denver Police Department on the investigation, which the DPD is leading, it stated: “We have no reason to believe this incident was connected to terrorism or a threat directed at the All-Star Game. We are not aware of any threat to the All-Star Game events, venues, players or the community at this time.”
The feds may not have intended that statement to seem like a rebuke of Denver authorities, but that’s the way it came across. The city quickly scrambled to schedule a press conference, but committed an unforced error in the process. The original announcement at 1:13 p.m. on July 11 stated that Mayor Michael Hancock, Department of Public Safety Executive Director Murphy Robinson and Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen would be joined by “a representative for the Colorado Rockies,” but a correction minutes later revealed that a Rockies rep wouldn’t be participating after all – and no wonder, since the last thing the team would want is for baseball fans to stay away from Coors Field.
At the 2:30 p.m. press conference, Hancock and company tried their best to reassure members of the public that they were safe while also offering vague updates on the investigation. Pazen wondered “why [the] individuals were here in the first place? Why proximity to downtown? And we don’t have those answers.”
Here’s video of the press conference tweeted out by the DPD:
The All-Star schedule is moving forward as planned; the Home Run Derby gets under way at 6 p.m. tonight, July 12. Meanwhile, Platt and his alleged conspirators are finding out just how stupid they were to convene at a hotel room near Coors Field in the days prior to Denver’s coming-out party.
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