AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - Police in Aurora are investigating a shooting that left six teenagers shot in Nome Park, close to Aurora Central High School. The victims, all students at the school, range in ages 14 to 18, and all were rushed to the hospital.
Police said the sixth victim, an 18-year-old, took themselves to the hospital.
All six were students at Aurora Central High School, located across the street from the park. Police identify them as:
- Male – 14-years old
- Female – 15-years old
- Male – 16-years old
- Female – 16 years old
- Male – 17-years old
- Male – 18-years old
Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson gave an update on the shooting just after 3 p.m. Monday.
"I want to thank the school resource officers who were among the first on the scene and provided life-saving measures," said Wilson.
Wilson said that the injuries may be non-life threatening but that one student was undergoing emergency surgery. She also called the shooting part of a "public health crisis."
The shooting happened just before 1 p.m. on Monday. Officers said they were searching for a suspect who was no longer at the park.
Wilson said there were "multiple shots fired."
Wilson said that officers had recovered multiple rounds and were in the process of identifying suspects wanted in the shooting. She said they had received several tips from neighbors and that officers were investigating several leads. She did not share any particulars about the suspects or vehicles because she said the investigation was still in the early stages and she didn't want to implicate any innocent bystanders in the investigation.
"This is a public health crisis. We need to find a way to get through to our kids," said Wilson.
Wilson urged anyone who has any cell phone video or surveillance video to please turn it over to police. Those witnesses can remain anonymous.
"Talk to your kids, please come forward if you have any information," said Wilson. "Any information, no matter how small, we need it."
Wilson also said that the Aurora Police Department was receiving assistance from other Denver metro area police departments. Officers are also working with Aurora Public Schools on the investigation. The gang unit was involved in the investigation, however Wilson said it was too early to confirm whether gangs were involved in the shooting.
A witness who lives across the street from Nome Park told CBS4's Mekialaya White that he heard what sounded like "30 to 50" gunshots.
"It's sad to see young people just throwing their lives away for nothing," said witness Henry Martinez. "I'm sad about that... heard like 30-50 shots, it was hard to count with them coming so fast like that, but at least 30."
The park is located at Nome Street and 12th Avenue. Aurora Central High School is located just south of the park and it was placed on lockdown. That was switched to a "secure perimeter" status a half hour later.
Parents of students at Aurora Central High School will be informed of pickup procedures for Monday afternoon via email from the school.
"It's been problem after problem after problem. I know they are trying their best, the school," said parent Evette Mitchell. "I just feel if we keep these kids positive, we wouldn't have so much violence going on."
Copter4 showed several emergency vehicles in the parking lot of the school. There was also crime tape placed in the park and in the front yard of a home across the street from the park.
Several older adults were also gathered outside the school and looking distraught. Many were talking on their phones.
Three teens taken to Children's Hospital were being treated and had been reunited with their parents.
Aurora Public Schools released this statement,
"The Aurora Public Schools community is heartbroken to learn that six Aurora Central High School students were injured in a shooting north of the school at Nome Park earlier today. We want to thank the Aurora Police Department (APD) and our security officers for their heroic response and support after the shooting. We had APD School Resource Officers and APS security officers who rushed to provide emergency care for the victims. We also want to thank them for coordinating a safe and phased release of students and staff at the end of our school day. We have also been focused on reaching out to the families and offering our support.
"The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff is our top priority. We will have additional mental health professionals at Aurora Central High School available for students and staff as needed. In addition, we will continue to have an increased security presence at and around the school.
"We are disgusted by this and other senseless acts of violence against our children who are the future of our community. We ask for your continued support of the Aurora Central community and we ask each of you to be a proactive part of keeping all of our children safe."
Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly issued this statement after the shootings,
"Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. Today's incident is deeply troubling. Violence involving teenagers and young adults is distressing and is sadly a public health problem in communities across the nation. The safety of young people in our community is a priority and that is why we have joined with other metro communities in working collaboratively to address youth violence as a public health crisis.
"Earlier this year, the city of Aurora launched the Youth Violence Prevention Program to develop a model inclusive of public health, prevention and intervention efforts that are based on national models and best practices to prevent and address youth violence in the short-term and the long-term. We also entered the Aurora/Denver Youth Empowerment Compact in Nov. 2020 to develop strategies and identify new and existing resources to combat youth violence with a public health approach in collaboration with the City and County of Denver.
"Addressing youth violence is complex. We believe these efforts combined with robust, ongoing community input will help reduce the impact of youth violence across the region."
Gov. Jared Polis offered this statement:
"I am so saddened by the violence that took place in Aurora today. Our children need to feel safe in parks, in our schools and parents need peace of mind that their students are safe in our neighborhoods. My prayers are with the victims, their families, and all of the concerned students and parents in Aurora. I have spoken with Mayor Coffman and extended my administration's support as the investigation evolves, reiterating my commitment to working with our cities to ensure that tragedies like this don't continue to happen in our communities, and hope the perpetrator or perpetrators will be brought to justice."
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