Angel Santibanez was shot in the head at point blank range just before noon Jan. 24 in room 16 at the Trail’s End Motel.
He was later pronounced dead at St. Anthony Hospital.
Santibanez is the latest in a long line of people to meet a bitter end on the notorious stretch of the longest commercial street in the U.S. Police affidavits and witness accounts say the suspected shooter, 24-year-old Maliq Alston Williamson, known on the streets as “Flaco,” had been staying in (and dealing drugs out of) room 24 of the motel, with at least one other suspect in the case, Deaundrae Turner, who goes by the street name “Ghost.”
Williamson is currently being held on suspicion of committing First-Degree Murder. Turner is being held on suspicion of committing First-Degree Burglary and Third-Degree Assault.
A third suspect at the scene, 35-year-old Antonio Antiwon Johnson, was apprehended and is currently being held on suspicion of committing Accessory to First-Degree Murder.
According to the arrest affidavits, witnesses at the scene, including Santibanez’s girlfriend and mother who were both staying in room 16 with Santibanez, a dispute over the potential sale of a PlayStation 4 video game console and a subsequent verbal altercation led to the shooting.
While this isn’t the first homicide to occur at a West Colfax motel, details aside from the actual killing, contained in the arrest affidavits, confirm a disturbing lack of adherence by the motel of procedures commonly performed when someone rents a motel room. A passage in the arrest affidavit for Johnson suggests unregistered guests were being permitted to stay in rooms and that motel employees were doing personal favors for those guests without even knowing their names.
“Motel management verified a black male with blonde dreadlocks known only as ‘Flaco’ was living and frequenting room 24 at the Trail’s End Motel over the past few days,” the affidavit read. “Manager Misty Martin indicated that Flaco was not on the registration to 24 but she knows he’d been staying at this room for the past several days. Furthermore, Misty indicated that she has watched Flaco’s dog previously.”
The affidavits also suggest requirements to register vehicles of guests through license plate numbers are being ignored as well.
But perhaps the most unsettling element of this case is its brazen nature, taking place within feet of a busy metropolitan road at noon on a weekday.
Santibanez’s sister, Ambrosia Gomez, said he had been living with her and her sister on and off for the last few years, but recent troubles in his personal life made it necessary for him to move out.
Since then, she said, he and his girlfriend had been living in Colfax motels. The day after the killing, Gomez went to the Trail’s End to retrieve her brother’s belongings. She said she was in disbelief that this type of crime could be committed at mid-day on such a busy street.
“When I went over there the next day, there were so many people walking around — there were people everywhere,” she said. “They (the suspects) were comfortable enough to go from their room, past the motel office to do it — my mom said they already had the gun in their hand.”
Gomez said that her mother was struck with the gun, and by the time she picked herself up off the ground and got up the stairs to her son’s room, it was already too late to prevent the shooting.
A hotel licensing ordinance that can be found in chapter 5.56 of the Lakewood Municipal Code was passed in 2019 in an attempt to crack down on crime and disproportionately high rates of service calls that were straining city resources.