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Two men charged with first-degree murder in connection with deadly drive-by shooting outside Denver aquarium

Dacien Salazar shooting.jpg
Posted at 4:23 PM, May 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-08 19:14:13-04

DENVER — Two men have been charged in connection with a deadly drive-by shooting outside of the Downtown Aquarium in Denver, the Denver District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.

Dacien Salazar, 19, was shot outside of the aquarium on February 14. He was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

Antonio Vasquez, 19, and Jason Trujillo, Jr., 17, were charged with first-degree murder in connection with Salazar's death, the DA's office announced Wednesday. Both are being tried as adults.

Vasquez and Trujillo are each being held on a $1 million, cash-only bond.

Two men charged with first-degree murder in connection with deadly drive-by shooting outside Denver aquarium

According to court documents, Salazar and two friends traveled to the aquarium from Pueblo for a Valentine's Day adventure. The three were standing outside of the aquarium when a black sedan occupied by two people pulled up. The arrest affidavit states someone in a black mask fired shots at Salazar, who was the only person struck during the shooting.

During interviews with investigators after the shooting, one of the friends said "Salazar had a lot of people that were after him," according to court documents. Salazar's girlfriend told investigators she had seen threats to Salazar over Facebook. One of those threats came from four people, including Trujillo. The affidavit states all four are members of a gang, however, the gang's name was redacted.

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According to the arrest affidavit, the incident is connected to a shooting that occurred in Pueblo. During that shooting, "two groups were shooting in the [redacted] parking lot where no one was injured," the document states. Pueblo police did not locate any victims but did recover several cartridges, which matched the cartridges found at the Denver shooting. Further details of the Pueblo shooting were heavily redacted.

On the day of the shooting, two men were caught on surveillance cameras leaving a hotel just before the shooting. The two men matched the descriptions of the two people seen inside the black sedan, according to court documents. The two were then seen returning to the hotel just after 7 p.m. on Feb. 14. The location of the hotel was redacted.

Records show Vasquez's cell phone leaving the hotel and heading to the aquarium at the time of the shooting, the affidavit states. Investigators tracked his cell phone from the hotel to the aquarium and then to Colorado Springs, according to court documents. The cell phone was then tracked back to the hotel.

Police learned of Trujillo's involvement through an anonymous tipster, the affidavit states. Investigators identified him as one of the two men seen in the hotel surveillance video.

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