Two men sentenced to life in prison for RTD bus stop double shooting

DENVER — Two men were sentenced to life in prison Wednesday in connection to a 2021 double shooting at an RTD bus stop in Denver.

After they were found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree attempted murder, Elias Chavez and Tlaloc Chavez were sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for both murder charges, with an additional 48-year sentence for the attempted murder charge.

Elias and Tlaloc were convicted of shooting and killing De’Angelo Tafoya and David Lara, both of whom were waiting for an RTD bus at a stop near Federal and Alameda in Denver on April 1, 2021.

The two shot from an SUV as they drove by, apparently perceiving the colors being worn by the victims as markings of a rival gang. According to police, a woman and a small child were in the SUV when the shooting took place, and bullet casings were found inside the car when Elias and Tlaloc were pulled over and arrested minutes later.

“It’s been a living hell,” said De’Angelo’s mother, Angie Tafoya, of the year and a half since her son’s killing. “It’s been devastating for me and my family. And we’ve been going through a lot. Nobody deserves to go through this.”

Much of Tafoya’s family packed the courtroom Wednesday, awaiting the sentencing of Elias and Tlaloc as a source of some closure. After the sentencing, they felt bittersweet relief, they said.

“My son’s not here to speak on his behalf, but I’m his voice,” said Angie, who described her grief in an impact statement before the court during the hearing. “I’m his mom, and I’ll always be here to keep his memory alive. We finally got justice. That’s all that matters.”

While family members for Tlaloc and Elias asked for leniency and “mercy” in the sentencing, Judge Edward David Bronfin noted that Colorado law gave him no discretion in the sentences given the nature of the crimes.

“None of this had to happen,” Judge Bronfin said, as he encouraged Colorado to grieve the victims.

Elias and Tlaloc have 45 days to appeal the case, and public defense will be appointed by the court.

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