Montbello shooting activates Denver’s Safe Haven Initiative, turning a nearby church into a place to seek help and air grievances

In response to the shooting, the New Life Christian Center was designated a Safe Haven for three days, under a Denver program launched only a month ago.

Montbello awoke on Sunday to the news of a shooting near Interstate 70 and Peoria that injured children, 3 and 6 years old, in addition to one adult.

In response to the shooting, the New Life Christian Center at 12505 Elmendorf Place was designated a Safe Haven for three days, under a Denver program launched only a month ago.

The Safe Haven Initiative gives people a network to participate in a community healing process. It is designed to help people who are struggling with fear, trauma, or frustration following a gang-related event. After something like the Montbello incident occurs, the closest participating church is designated as a Safe Haven for three days.

“Under the leadership of our faith community, we’re going to bring a community response to these terrible acts when they occur to support those affected however we can,” Mayor Hancock said in a press release announcing the launch of the Safe Haven Initiative.

People in Montbello will have a chance to air out their grievances regarding the shooting. Volunteers on site will have been trained in psychological first aid and critical response training. Emotional and mental wellness specialists, interpreters, childcare and food will also be available to people at the New Life Christian Center.

The victims’ family told media outlets that the shooting was a random drive-by that occurred when they were sitting in their front yard.

All were transported to a hospital. The children’s injuries are not considered life-threatening, and one is already back playing in the yard where the shooting occurred.

“As a community we understand the trauma and fear that accompanies a tragic event in our neighborhood. The Safe Haven activation allows community members the opportunity to come to a secure location to receive support and services to begin to heal from these events,” said Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore.

At the time Safe Haven was launched, more than 20 churches signed up to be a designated safe location. Safe Haven is partnered with the Gang Reduction Initiative of Denver (GRID). GRID includes a number of businesses, agencies and faith organizations that aim to combat gang violence.

“We’re working to improve our life. It is a very prideful community,” said Chris Martinez, chairperson of Montbello Organizing Committee.