Gene Newson was on his knees, sponge in hand, scrubbing blood from the spot at East Colfax Avenue and Pearl Street where his brother, Billy, died early Sunday from a gunshot to the head.

"Grimy stuff goes off down here every night," said a man who was watching Newson scrub the concrete on the commercial strip Monday afternoon. The man would not give his name. "There's bloodstains everywhere down here."

Newson's murder followed the fatal shooting of Leroy Wright, 56, at East 21st Avenue and Franklin Street a little more than a week before.

On Monday afternoon, 18-year-old Dequan Walker-Smith was shot dead on the corner of East 29th Avenue and Franklin, bringing the number of violent street deaths in the area to three in 10 days.

Wright and Billy Newson were killed in Police District 6. District Cmdr. Tony Lopez said police don't believe their murders are connected. Walker-Smith was shot just inside the District 2 border.

Residents who live in neighborhoods near the East Colfax corridor are concerned by a spike in crime that they think could be a byproduct of drug-dealing on the strip between Grant and Clarkson streets.

Police statistics show that calls for service to the East Colfax area in 2011 were up 9 percent from the year before. The number of assaults rose to 433 from 305 , the number of robberies increased to 90 from 63, and stabbings climbed to 17 from eight in 2010.


"Anecdotally, and statistically, we're seeing a bump in the incidence of drug-related activity, and with Sunday's homicide and other recent violence, that too may be drug-related, although we don't know that for a fact at this time," said Dave Walstrom, executive director of Colfax on the Hill business association.

Lopez said he is aware of the toll crime is taking on the neighborhood.

"We have had a string of robberies taking place, and we have enhanced patrol," he said. "We have made quite a few contacts and arrests, and as a result, the robberies we were having reported have dropped off."

Neighbors remain concerned that the jump in criminal activity is the result of budget cuts that led to reduction in the number of police available.

"The cutback in the city's budget of $30 million has reduced police resources and personnel, and we hope that's not something that will be the new normal," Walstrom said.

Newson, 30, said the streets are wild around the area where his brother, Billy, 29, died. On East Colfax at night, he said, "I see about 30 crack heads, 10 dope dealers, 10 prostitutes and one cop."

Police Chief Robert White, who is in the process of reorganizing the force to get more officers on the streets, said, "The goal is to get more resources in the district, and that includes District 6. ... They need more."

Tom McGhee: 303-954-1671 or