Taggers had mom's help, police say
Mom denies graffiti role
By Christopher N. Osher
Denver Post Staff Writer
Denver police apprehended a 35-year-old mother they say was acting as a driver and lookout for her teenage sons' notorious graffiti tagging crew.
Officers said the graffiti gang, one of the most prolific in southwest Denver and the outlying suburbs, had been marring property nightly for months.
Evette Rascon, of the 6200 block of West Jefferson Avenue in Jefferson County, and her two sons, 17 and 16, were arrested by police late Thursday. Rascon spent a night in jail and was released Friday after she paid a $321 fine and pleaded guilty to trespassing and wrongs to minors.
She denied any wrongdoing in an interview. But officers said a woman had been seen with the taggers on more than one occasion.
The three were arrested in an April 17 incident at Pebble Creek Condominiums, a favorite target of the graffiti crew, police said.
A Jefferson County sheriff's deputy was conducting surveillance that night in hopes of snagging the crew.
The deputy reported he confronted two juveniles that night. One had a spray-paint can and another had a baseball bat, according to the deputy's account.
The teens' mother was acting as a lookout and waiting at her car for her children to return, the deputy said. When he approached, he said, the two teenagers fled the scene. The mother jumped in her car and rammed it into a carport before fleeing the scene, the deputy said.
Rascon, in the interview, said she and her children were trying to bust up another graffiti gang that night. She said she had been drinking at a bar and she had her children pick her up so she wouldn't drive home drunk.
On the way home, they saw someone on the condominium roof, and her children jumped out of the car to confront a suspected tagger, she said.
"Next thing I know some guy comes up on me and points a gun at my face," Rascon said. "He said, 'I just saw your two kids, and I'm trying to stop the tagging."'
She denied any involvement in a tagging crew.
"I hate the tagging," she said. "I see it everywhere. It's up and down Morrison Road and up and down Federal Boulevard. It's everywhere if you drive around and look. It's disgusting."
The case eventually ended up in the hands of Denver police officer Gerard Alarcon, who for months has been trying to bust the tagging crew.
"These guys were constantly tagging property," Alarcon said. "They are in the top 10 in terms of tagging crews." He said he tracked the mother down after a person with the condominiums provided him with the license plate information of her car and her address, which is just a few blocks from the condominiums.
"The original complaint was that there was a mom taking her kids out tagging," Alarcon said.
The arrests were a relief to those living at the condominiums, who daily were confronted with the crew's graffiti tags.
"They liked our carport on the frontage road," said Mike Reed, a member of the Pebble Creek Condominium Homeowners Association. "It was like a billboard for them. They were hitting that up pretty regularly, and come springtime it just exploded."
Reed suspects he had one run-in with the crew in December when he caught it in the act. But he couldn't make a solid identification once he chased the taggers to their house, and police declined to press charges, he said. The mother at that time stood up for the children and said they had been home the entire night, he said.
"We knew she was covering for them back then," Reed said.
He said the graffiti problem at the condominiums got so bad in the early spring that the homeowners association was spending $500 a day in paint to cover the damage.
"It's heartbreaking to see this every morning when you get up to go out to work and see this destruction of your property every day," Reed said.
Alarcon scoffed at the mother's contention that she and her children were trying to stop a rival tagging crew.
"That's ridiculous," he said. "You don't let your kids out with a spray can or a baseball bat."
Tuesday, May 23, 2006