Part 3 of this report
Aurora, CO – When I last left you in this series, Antonio “Kapone” Williams and his wife Lynn, a homeless couple, were squatting in an old and abandoned 75 cent coin operated car wash located at East Colfax Ave. and Joliet St. in North Aurora, Colorado.
Additionally, a homeless man named Jeff was panhandling with his 2 year old daughter “Summer” (her name changed) outside of a South West Aurora McDonald’s restaurant at S. Havana St. and E. Florida Ave. Kapone and Lynn had been living in the old car wash for about a month. Jeff, had his daughter Summer for the weekend, his wife in the Denver County Jail for and old criminal offense. Jeff was 25 dollars short for a motel room for the night with his child.
Kapone and Lynn were living in the old car wash. Jeff was panhandling with his daughter Summer in tow.
A couple of evenings later I rolled up on a serious street shooting incident near Mississippi and Havana in South Aurora. The shooting had occurred just east of that intersection in the middle of East Mississippi Ave. It’s 6:12 PM. I’m snapping still pics of the shooting scene. Numerous Aurora cops swirl around a sedan with a rear window that has obviously been blasted out by gunfire. An ambulance has just left the scene with one victim. I’m clicking the shutter on my DSLR camera when I glance to my right and who do I see? Jeff. The homeless panhandler from the other evening, and yes, his daughter Summer is still in tow in her stroller. On this occasion Summer is wide awake. Jeff still has a half-gallon of milk on the top of her stroller and Summer, this time eyes wide open, is sucking on her milk bottle. “Jeff” I say! Remember me? Shane, from outside of the McDonald’s the other night.” Jeff looks at me. “Sure” he says. I remember you!” “Did you and Summer make it to a motel that night?” I ask. “Yep, I sure did.” Answers Jeff. “I’m looking to get into another one tonight. Right now I’m only $15 bucks short.”
I survey the crime scene. Lots of cops. Lots of rubberneckers. There’s always plenty of interest in a broad-daylight shooting. I ask Jeff what brings him and his daughter to this violent crime scene. He tells me he had been in the King Soopers grocery story parking lot across Havana when he heard “Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!” “It sounded just like the shootout at the OK Corral” says Jeff. “Six or eight shots!” He goes on to say “I ran across Havana with Summer to see what had happened. Another dude told me paramedics were doing CPR on a guy and blood was squirting out of him! Man, this is crazy!” I ask Jeff if he feels safe wandering the streets with his daughter when things like this shooting can go down with no notice. “Well,” he answers, “Of course it doesn’t make me feel very safe, especially with Summer with me. What can I say? It’s all part of life on the streets.”
‘Paramedics were doing CPR on a guy and blood was squirting out of him! Man this is Crazy!’
I give his statement thought as I snap a few more pics of the scene. Cops map out the crime scene. Yellow evidence markers litter the pavement. A woman sits in obvious shock in a car behind the sedan with the shot-out window. In the daylight Jeff looks a bit rougher than he had under the restaurant lights the other night. I look at little Summer. She stares in the direction of the busy shooting scene, completely oblivious to the scene and its inherent violence. I watch Jeff wander off from the scene. He pushes Summer’s stroller towards the East and slips into the crowd of civilian gawkers.
Once again, (as I had the other evening) I find myself wondering if the father and daughter will find suitable shelter for the night. Will Jeff (with Summer at his side) find himself near or in the middle of any other violent crimes in the neighborhood? I really can’t say. I wish Jeff and Summer the best in my mind. I pack my camera bag and saddle up to head 10 minutes North. Time to check back in on Kapone and Lynn in their old car wash “home”.
When I get up on Colfax I turn right on Jamaica Street. As I round the corner to the abandoned car wash, I notice that the West bay where Kapone and Lynn have been living is empty. I turn right behind the adjacent old tire store, and there to the right of a green dumpster I see Kapone, Lynn and all of their possessions against a white cinder block wall. I get out of my truck and strike up a conversation with the couple. They tell me that Aurora Zoning came down hard on the car wash owners and that the owners told the couple to be out of the car wash lock-stock-and barrel by the following morning.
The old car wash bay has now been completely emptied
Virtually everything has been moved out of the old wash bay. Kapone shows me how clean they have left the bay. Cleaner now than how they found it he tells me. They have moved almost every single belonging of theirs against the wall of the tire store which is right next to the car wash.
Evening is now falling rapidly. Kapone is favoring his right hand and he tells me that he had gotten into a scrap with some type of street preacher and that he, Kapone, had to defend himself. He now believes his hand is broken. A later trip to the hospital will confirm his hand is indeed fractured. Kapone and Lynn move and reorganize a few remaining possessions. He tours their old car wash “home” one last time. They will camp for this night against the North wall of the old tire store. In the morning the couple will likely have to move on to a new location. Their next likely camp spot, a park right up the street.
The next day Tuesday 8/29 I return and the tire store wall is indeed clear of both the couple and their household possessions. I drive North a block to Spencer Garrett park. I spot Kapone and Lynn in the Southeast corner of the park. 6 shopping “buggies” hold most of their valuables. Furnishings and other smaller household items are staged on the edge of the sidewalk. This day in the park is mostly uneventful. The following day is quiet in the park as well.
By Thursday 8/31 the park camping location is starting to unravel for the couple. Kapone, who says he smokes small quantities of pot for his chronic spinal pain, gets ticketed by Aurora Police for public consumption of marijuana in the park. Lynn gets warned by an officer of some type of unresolved legal issue that she has as well. What that issue is, she isn’t even completely sure she says. The officers went on further to warn the couple that if they are still in the park at 8PM this evening with their shopping carts and belongings, that Aurora Code Enforcement will be called in and all of their possessions would be permanently disposed of. Lynn and Kapone are worried. They need to get their buggies out of the park quickly, but it’s impractical to travel far with them this time of night, besides, Kapone’s broken hand is hurting him. Between his spine (which has been twisted by both scoliosis and degenerative disc disease) and his broken right hand, Kapone leaves most of the shopping cart organizing and heavy lifting to Lynn.
The two devise a plan of action to hide their buggies from the cops
The two devise a plan to stash their carts and belongings against the wall of a church adjacent to their park camp location. They hope that the exterior walls of the church will provide adequate camouflage for their buggies from the street, and effectively hide them from both the Aurora cops and Code Enforcement. It’s 8:43pm. Lynn fades in and out of the park shadows shuttling their fully loaded shopping buggies into the dark church alley for overnight storage. She stashes the carts against the darkened outside walls of the church. By 9pm no cops have shown. Capone and Lynn are exhausted. Crickets and cicadas fill the evening air with their end of summer songs. An emergency-vehicle siren screams down Colfax. The two bed down and snuggle against the darkened masonry wall of the church.
The next evening I return and find the couple back in their same corner of the park with all of their goods where they had resided the few days before. It’s Friday September the 1st about 7PM, the beginning of Labor Day Weekend. They had vacated the church parking lot early this morning, as not to get hassled for trespassing, and had taken up camp in the park once again. Kapone tells me that he talked today with a representative from a local homeless shelter who had stopped by the park to chat with both him and Lynn about coming to the shelter. Kapone says he would rather “Serve the Devil” than stay at that particular shelter. He says “It’s filthy and dangerous sh*t-hole filled with thieving crack heads!”
‘I’d rather serve the Devil than stay in that shelter’ says Kapone
Darkness is setting in at the park. Lynn works feverishly and efficiently to pack their nomadic camp up for the night. The couple is still at great risk of the Aurora cops rolling up in the dark and shaking them down for vagrancy, or at risk of the park lawn sprinklers coming on suddenly and soaking all of their personal belongings. Lynn systematically packs a half-dozen shopping carts which now hold the couple’s entire mobile household. Kapone rummages thru a grimy back pack and looks for his marijuana rolling papers. His back and hand hurt and he wants to smoke a blunt. He can’t find his rolling papers and Kapone accuses other park dwellers of having stolen them. “I hate thieves!” he says. This evening he has a red and white cruiser-style Schwinn bicycle that he has retrieved out of a local pawn shop. He hops on the bike and peddles off in the direction of East Colfax to buy replacement rolling papers. He prefers mango or watermelon flavored papers. It’s dark by now.
Lynne is silhouetted against the dark park by orange sodium vapor streetlights. A glowing cigarette dangles from her lips. A waxing September-first moon rises over the adjacent church parking lot which gave Capone and Lynn their sanctuary last night, the church where they had stashed their shopping buggies and bunked down for the evening. They had managed last night to stay out of sight of patrolling police eyes and potential human predators as well. Distant crickets now fill the air with their chirps. Lynn continues to scurry around in the darkened park. There is a method to her shopping cart distribution system. Each buggy holds specific items. One for housing gear such as tents, one for clothing, one for food, one for hardware, etc.
Each buggy holds specific items in Lynn and Kapone’s system
A lone dog howls in the crowded urban distance. Cars pump out loud bass-filled music and slowly roll by on East 16th ave. The distant sounds of children playing waft in on the mild September air from the North end of the park. Lynn takes a quick break from her camp chores to walk to the Golden Arches nearby and get a large cup of ice. When she returns she pours a warm soda over the cup of ice. She’s been at her chores for about 2 hours now. The nocturnal sorting and loading ritual continues. Back and forth she moves, packing and organizing in the darkness. A large family wanders by with 2 children peddling their bikes. The family stairs at Lynn in her darkened homeless camp and whispers inaudibly. A small child cries in an adjacent backyard. A car drives by and a male voice shouts a word out of the window. Did he just yell “bum!?” Lynn asks me. “I’m not certain, but I think so.” I reply softly. Lynn is unfazed. She contemplates which buggies to cover with plastic tarps in case of nighttime rain. It’s 9:02PM and she is finally about ready for some dinner.
When asked about all of their many belongings, Lynn says that the items are all very important to the couple. Their wish is to hang on to all (or most) of it or to store it somewhere in the hope that their valuable possessions will land in an actual house someday. A house that they could call home. Perhaps a house of their own back in Russell, Kansas where they once lived and perhaps someday will return.
‘Someone just tried to jack my bike on Colfax by the liquor store’
Kapone rides back into the camp on his red and white Schwinn cruiser. He says someone has just tried to jack his bike by the Colfax liquor store where he purchased his mango flavored wraps, but he has no time for the evening drama. Two young men on bikes have just approached him and Lynn in the darkness and are discussing purchasing or bartering used bicycle parts. I hear the sound of numerous fire trucks racing down Colfax. Lynn says she’s tired of the constant sirens wailing thru the night. She says it’s like living by a train track. You know you’ve been there too long when you start to not notice them any more. Lynn finalizes the packing for the night. The two young men on bikes melt into the park’s shadows. Lynn wants to again move the shopping carts to the relative safety of the church parking lot, even though it technically means trespassing.
Kapone sighs. “I’m too tired to move all of this stuff” he whispers. “Let’s just stay in the park and take our chances tonight”. The couple has grown weary of the park camp location. Too much stress. Too much police heat. Kapone has an idea for a new more secretive camp location. He thinks it will offer better privacy, but the neighborhood there is seedier, more dangerous and leaves much to be desired. He tells me how to navigate to their likely next camp location in the following day or so. I leave the couple for the evening and return to the safety and comfort of my life. I feel more than a pang of guilt about doing so. I hope Kapone and Lynn will be safe in the park on this night. As for Jeff and his daughter Summer. I haven’t seen him since the shooting. I hope the two of them are safe as well. Shane Anthony reporting ColoradoNews1.com