The Adams County house where a teenager was shot to death and two others were wounded at a party early Sunday morning is used as a short-term rental and was connected to the death of a 16-year-old boy last year.
Between 100 and 200 young people were gathered at the property at 120 E. 70th Ave. — a house on a dusty lot tucked between a tire shop, liquor store and the interchanges of Interstates 25, 76 and 270 — for a party when someone started shooting and three teenagers, ages 17, 18 and 18, were hit.
One of the 18-year-olds was killed, but he has not been publicly identified. Most of the attendees at the party were minors or 18-year-olds, Adams County Sheriff’s office Sgt. Adam Sherman said Monday.
The fatal shooting is at least the second time the house has been connected to a party full of teenagers, the sound of gunfire and a young person’s death.
In July 2021, 16-year-old Hugo Daniel Carreon was killed in a traffic crash after attending a party at the house, court records show. Five other people in the vehicle were seriously injured.
Some survivors of the crash and Hugo’s parents are suing both the 18-year-old driver and several members of the family that owns the house at 120 E. 70th Ave., court records show, alleging that the property owners wrongly invited minors to the house to drink alcohol.
“Defendants were negligent in allowing the residence located at 120 E. 70th Avenue to be used for the purpose of serving and consumption of alcohol by persons under the age of 21,” reads the complaint.
On July 25, 2021, Hugo and several other teenagers went to a party at the rental house and drank alcohol, the lawsuit alleges. At some point in the night, the teenagers believed they heard gunshots, so they ran back to their vehicle, the complaint says. Joseph Brandt, then 18, was behind the wheel. He was intoxicated as he drove away from the party, the lawsuit says, and speeding because the teenagers believed they were being followed.
Brandt was driving south on U.S. 85 in Commerce City around 1:20 a.m. when he lost control near the intersection with East 69th Avenue, according to the lawsuit. The vehicle rolled over, killing Hugo. Five other people in the car suffered serious injuries, according to the Commerce City Police Department. At least three were minors who are now suing, the lawsuit shows.
Brandt, who is now 19, was charged with vehicular homicide while driving under the influence, as well as vehicular assault and reckless driving. The criminal case against him is pending, records show.
But Hugo’s parents and other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are also seeking civil penalties against property owner Joseph A. Broncucia and several members of the Broncucia family, claiming they were “social hosts” who are liable because they knowingly enabled underage drinking.
County records show Joseph Broncucia has owned the property since at least 2003. The house has been listed on the vacation rental site Vrbo since at least August 2021 as a “Denver Fun Home.” The property features a “party room,” can sleep 17 and rents for about $700 a night, according to the listing, which says children and parties are welcome with a maximum of 50 attendees.
Reviews on the rental posting show the house has been used for a graduation party, birthday party, bridal shower and a wedding reception, among other events.
“Defendants knowingly provided defendant Joseph Brandt and the minor passengers, persons under the age of 21, a place to consume (alcohol) and served alcoholic beverages, which was likely to create an unreasonable risk of harm to others,” the lawsuit alleges.
Members of the Broncucia family could not be reached or did not return requests for comment Monday, and their attorney in the civil case did not return a request for comment.
Hugo’s parents and the crash survivors are seeking monetary damages for wrongful death, physical injuries, pain and suffering, emotional distress and medical expenses, according to the lawsuit.
Attorneys for the Carreon family and the other plaintiffs in the case did not return requests for comment Monday.