JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – A garden dedicated to the innocent victims of violent crimes more than two decades ago went up in flames this week.
On Wednesday, firefighters responded to Courage Garden, located behind the Jefferson County Court, around 7:30 p.m. Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader says the fire is being investigated as arson.
Courage Garden was built 25 years ago after Victim Outreach, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people impacted by trauma, asked the county for land to create a memorial for victims.
In 1995, the same year Courage Garden was created, a gazebo was built by community members and funded by several law enforcement agencies in honor of Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Timothy Michael Mossbrucker. He was shot to death while responding to a shooting at a grocery store on April 28, 1995. Sgt. Mossbrucker was the first officer to arrive on the scene.
Jefferson County Sheriff Shrader was a friend of Mossbrucker.
“He was a little bit of a mentor to many people,” he said.
Sheriff Shrader describes Sgt. Mossbrucker as a family man that was kind and thoughtful.
The fire destroyed the gazebo dedicated in his honor.
“It’s a little bit of heartbreak,” Sheriff Shrader said.
Deb Warren walked the garden with yellow roses in her arms. She says she had to see the damage for herself.
“I don’t understand why things like this are happening,” she said.
Twenty years ago, her family planted a Southwestern White Pine tree at Courage Garden in honor of her son, Andrew Warren.
“I feel at peace and that I can communicate with him,” she said.
Andrew Warren was 13 years old when he took his life.
“He was the kid that all the kids wanted to be like or hang out with,” Warren said. “He was very popular.”
The mulch near Andrew Warren’s tree burned, but his plaque and an angel remained in place.
“I can smell the burnt earth,” Warren said.
Parts of the garden were spared and now the sheriff and Warren hope the community can help contribute and plant a new seed of hope and rebuild the gazebo and bring the garden back to life.
If you would like to help rebuild Courage Garden, click here.