Driver who hit two pedestrians in a LoDo bar crowd was fleeing the scene of a fight

Video of the incident is circulating on Twitter. Two people were injured.

Closing time in LoDo, March 12, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Closing time in LoDo, March 12, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Denver police on Monday said they have identified a suspect in connection to a hit-and-run crash early Sunday morning in LoDo that left two people injured, but they aren’t naming him or her.

Patrol Division Chief Ron Thomas would not identify the suspect while the investigation continues. The driver faces potential vehicular assault charges. Thomas said police know the car’s owner.

Thomas said the incident happened near 20th and Market Street at about 2 a.m. as people started leaving various bars and restaurants in one of the city’s major nightlife districts. Two people were injured, but the department said they were not serious injuries.

Thomas said police were initially alerted about “an excited crowd” in the area. Officers tried to disperse the crowd, using pepper spray in some cases. Officers later learned that within that crowd, people were trying to pry open a car door to get to the people inside the vehicle. Police said they were still investigating whether the incident was related to other fights in the area.

As the tried to get inside the car, the driver accelerated, moving quickly down the street and striking two pedestrians. Officers tended to the two victims and determined their injuries were not significant. They were later examined by doctors at a hospital.

Video of the incident circulated on Twitter on Sunday. A user shared a video showing a gray car moving rapidly down a street and striking two people, tossing one into the air. Several uniformed police officers and at least one patrol car are visible in the video. Another angle showed what appears to be a fight between several men before one person gets inside the gray car and drives away from the scene.

Police were asked why they didn’t immediately notify the public about the incident; the department didn’t seem to acknowledge it on Twitter until 9:16 pm on Sunday, after the videos emerged.

Thomas said the incident did not meet the department’s criteria for notification, which were put into place after the department encrypted its radio transmissions.

“Certainly, I can recognize that it was a very dramatic video, very concerning to us, and I can imagine to the public as well, but nevertheless, it did not rise to the criteria of our notification,” Thomas said. “There was not significant injury. There’s certainly not a death. There were no road closures as a result of that and we really did not feel like there was any continuing community concern involving that particular incident.”

Market Street was already closed to cars at that hour, which is standard practice for busy weekend nights.

He said the downtown area is a safe environment and that the incident was isolated. He does not anticipate having a larger police presence this upcoming weekend. Thomas declined to elaborate the number of police officers they deploy in the area, citing safety, only noting it’s a “significant” presence every weekend. It includes both on-duty officers and off-duty cops assigned to bars in the area.

Other people were inside the car that struck the pedestrians. Thomas said they could be witnesses in the investigation and could also potentially face charges.

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