DENVER — How would you describe someone accused of shooting bullets into vehicles from a parking structure over a public street?
On Wednesday, the Denver District Attorney's Office announced the charges against 39-year-old Bryan Lambert, the man accused of shooting an AR-15-style rifle from a parking structure in Denver's River North area over the weekend.
Officers with the Denver Police Department (DPD) responded to 2701 Blake St. around 11:30 a.m. Saturday for a report of shots fired. When they arrived, the officers heard more gunfire and spotted Lambert with an AR-15 style rifle in his hand, according to a probable cause statement.
He put the rifle and magazines on the ground, the document says. Officers contacted him just east of Coors Field and took him into custody.
Officers also viewed surveillance video they said showed Lambert firing the rifle on different levels of the parking garage. It also showed him leaning over the edge and pointing the rifle into traffic.
According to DPD, Lambert's bullets pierced two cars on the street.
Lambert faces two counts of criminal mischief, two counts using a prohibited large-capacity magazine during a crime and using a prohibited weapon. Criminal mischief is the most serious felony charge he faces.
The owner of one of the two cars showed Next with Kyle Clark the damage. The driver's side has a shattered window with a bullet hole through the center of the window. Another bullet hit the side-view mirror, destroyed the side-view mirror glass and went through the driver's side window. Another bullet went through the driver's side door. Two of the bullets have exit holes on the passenger side of the vehicle.
According to the arrest warrant, the other vehicle had damage to the driver's side metal door, panels, windshield, passenger side window and passenger side door.
Criminal mischief is a property crime based on the cost of the damage. The felony criminal mischief charges Lambert faces are based on damage between $5,000 and $20,000.
If someone were accused of the same dollar amount worth of damage using graffiti or keying a car, they would be charged with the same crime.
"Criminal mischief is all about damage and how much damage was done. So, how it was caused doesn’t really make a difference, it’s really just the total amount that was damaged," said Timothy Lane with the Colorado District Attorney's Council.
Lane is not part of the Denver District Attorney's Office that will work on this case, but he agreed to talk with Next about why someone accused of firing bullets onto a public street would be charged no different than graffiti or a key
“Criminal mischief, it doesn’t matter how it’s accomplished. If it’s done with a hammer, if it’s done with a hand, if it’s done with a key, if it’s done with a gun, other charges may apply when you have a case involving a gun," said Lane.
Lambert is facing other charges involving the gun, including two counts of using a large-capacity gun magazine. Colorado law bans the sale, transfer or possession of a magazine that can hold more than 15 bullets. A 9Wants to Know investigation recently uncovered large-capacity gun magazines still being sold as though the law doesn't exist or in "kits" that are essentially a large-capacity gun magazine disassembled and sold in pieces.
According to Lambert's arrest warrant, Denver Police found three magazines with him; two 30-round magazines and a 10-round magazine. The warrant said that one of the 30-round magazines had 20 bullets remaining in the magazine, with nine spent shell casings found in the parking structure.
Even though one of the two 30-round magazines was still full, Colorado law allows him to be charged with the use of it if one is used during a felony or crime of violence.
None of the charges he's facing involve someone who might have been at risk of being shot. Lane said prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone specific was in danger of being shot.
"We have to look at it and find an actual victim, either someone that we can name and have come into court or someone that we can point to and say this individual was the victim of a persons crime,” said Lane. "You have to show that a specific person was targeted.”
The scene around the structure was closed Saturday for the investigation but reopened later in the day.
Janet Orvatez and Crystal Bedoya contributed to this article.
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