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Denver park closed after man was fatally shot trying to break up fight

Gary Arellano was killed Wednesday at La Alma-Lincoln Park in Denver, family members said.

DENVER — A 63-year-old man who was trying to break up a fight between two teenage girls on Wednesday night was shot and killed, according to Denver Police.

According to court documents, it all began with a fight downtown. A short time later, police said, the girls texted each other and arranged to continue the fight that night at La Alma-Lincoln Park at 13th Avenue and Osage Street.

As the girls were fighting in the park, police said Gary Arellano, who they describe as a good Samaritan, tried to break up the fight. Police said the boyfriend of one of the girls, 24-year-old Trahavonie Smith, pulled out a gun and shot and killed Arellano.

Arellano's nephew, Aidan Arellano, said La Alma Park was one of his uncle's favorite places and that he was there almost every day with the same group of friends. He practically lived here, Aidan Arellano said.

"He always loved that park, he grew up playing basketball in that park," Aidan Arellano said. "He's a positive guy, he's always outgoing, giving positive things to the community, always willing to help."

Credit: Family
Gary Arellano was shot and killed at La Alma Park in Denver.

A witness followed Smith as he left the park and alerted officers in the area, a DPD spokesperson said. Smith was arrested without incident and is now being held for investigation of first-degree murder. 

"(Arellano) was an innocent person who did what he thought was right," said Commander Matt Clark, who heads the Denver Police homicide unit. "This is tragic. This terrible."

The Denver Parks and Recreation Department said they will re-open La Alma Park when they determine that the park is safe for everyone to use.

Credit: Denver Police Department

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