DENVER – Two individuals who are self-proclaimed gang members have been sentenced by federal judges to lengthy prison sentences for gun and drug crimes, U.S. Attorney John Walsh and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Ken Croke announced. The defendants, whose cases are unrelated, Jonathan Fricks, age 35, and Jesse Garis, age 32, both of Metro Denver, were prior felons caught with guns and drugs, as well as drug distribution paraphernalia.
Makia Peevy joined the hundred or so marchers calling for peace. Her father was gunned down in April outside his Denver home, and shots fired at mourners gathering for his funeral weeks later killed one of her cousins. Police linked both deaths to gang violence.
Denver police department’s gang initiative
Denver police say their recent crackdown on gang members in northeast Denver has reduced the number of shootings between April 27 and June 1. During that period, police reported the following activity:
107 felony arrests
277 misdemeanor arrests
29 firearms recovered
29 stolen cars recovered
738 gang members contacted by police
844 non-gang members contacted by police
Gang Members on Parole Continue to Find Inspiration at Flippin’ the Script Graduation In the wake of all the recent gang violence, Rev. Leon Kelly, Executive Director with Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives, continues to inspire former gang members newly released from prison to make the right choices
The Department of Corrections Flippin’ the Script program recently celebrated its 24th graduation. Rev. Kelly runs the program weekly with men and women who are working to make a new life for themselves. Rev. Kelly celebrates their accomplishments in a graduation because, as he often says, “these are people who haven’t experienced that kind of acknowledgement.”
During the ceremony, Rev. Kelly often mentioned The Way to Happiness, pointing out that while he is a Christian, he works with any person of any denomination willing to help him keep kids off the streets and out of gangs. He was honored with a Certificate of Recognition, signed by the President of The Way of Happiness Foundation International, Caralyn Percy, and presented by Susan Gaut, Director of Special Affairs at the local Church of Scientology. The certificate noted that Rev Kelly was precept #6, “Set a Good Example,” personified. The Foundation congratulated Rev. Kelly on all his good works in the community, and thanked him for his association with The Way to Happiness
The invocation was given by Pastor Robert Kimbel with New Birth Church. Lloyd Lewan, Founder of Lewan and Associates and the Lewan Family Foundation, and Denver Sherriff Department Chief, Gary Wilson, addressed the crowd gathered in the community space at the Church of Scientology in the Ballpark neighborhood. The message was consistent: the men and women graduating can inspire others in the community to make the right choices because of the path they have chosen.
The keynote address was delivered by the Director of Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Ron Sloan. A Denver native, Sloan told the crowd that he could have easily been sitting where they are—post prison and forging new lives without crime. Sloan related that he’s never forgotten his Denver neighborhood and how easily he could have gone “the other way,” except he played football as a teenager. He reminded the graduates that “prison is not an option”—the mantra Rev. Kelly has instilled in them, and wished them well on their journey