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Shootings, murders continue to rise in Denver

According to Police Chief Paul Pazen, gun crimes are up about 73% year-to-date compared to the city's three-year average.

DENVER — Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said he's "very concerned" about a violent few days that left four people injured during two separate shootings.

One person was wounded early Monday morning in a shooting on King Street, while three others were hurt -- one of them seriously -- after a shooting at Park Avenue and Lawrence Street in downtown Denver.    

RELATED: Denver police investigating triple shooting

"It highlights some of the challenges we are facing in Denver," Pazen said.

According to Pazen, gun crimes are up about 73% year-to-date compared to the city's three-year average.

"Oftentimes, the difference between a non-fatal shooting and a fatal shooting is luck. Either good luck for the person being shot or bad luck for the person pulling the trigger," Pazen said.

So far this year, there have been 39 murders in Denver, which is a 35% increase over the three-year average. At the same time last year, there were 34, which was a 15% increase over the three-year average.

Pazen said one major concern is the fact that 59% of this year's homicide victims were Black, even though Black people are less than 10% of the city's population.

"We met with the ministerial alliance. We've met with the NAACP. We'll continue to look for additional solutions from our faith-based groups, our nonprofits," Pazen said.

Pazen said there's no one cause for the increase in homicides this year, and no one solution.

"They're not all gang-related. They're not all youth-related. They're not all drug-related or domestic violence-related," Pazen said.

There might not be one common denominator, but Pazen continues to focus on the large percentage of murder suspects -- 35% this year -- who were on parole, probation or pre-trial supervision at the time of the murder.

"We certainly hope that there will be an added view of what's working and, in too many cases, what's not working, so that there can be some improvement," Pazen said.

One piece of positive news: According to Denver police, the clearance rate, or percentage of murders that detectives have solved this year, is right around 75%, and the clearance rate for non-fatal shootings is right around 50%. Both of those numbers are well above the national average.

RELATED: 60 years in prison: Man pleads guilty to strangling 77-year-old a day after being released from jail

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