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While Youth Violence In Aurora Continues, City Program Implementing Immediate Solutions

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - In less than a week, four separate shootings in Aurora left two teens dead and three others wounded.

The first happened last Monday afternoon in an apartment complex parking lot near Aurora Town Center. 18-year-old Jason Phillips was shot and killed.

On Friday evening, two 16-year-olds were shot inside their car near East 12th Avenue and North Ironton Street. Aurora police said one of the teens died at the hospital, while another was injured.

"He was shot, he was in very bad shape and that's when I told my wife to call 911," said witness Damian Alcazar.

Alcazar said he heard gunshots Friday evening and went outside to see a car crash through his fence and into his front yard. He said when he checked on the two people in the car, he was shocked to learn how young they were.

"You see these kids coming out of there with gunshot wounds and the car full of bullet holes and fighting for their lives," Alcazar said.

On Sunday, a spokesperson for APD said investigators do not believe the shooting was random, and the department is asking for anyone in the immediate area to check their cameras for anything suspicious between 7 p.m. and 7:15 pm.

aurora shooting 15-year-old
(credit: CBS)

Aurora police reported two more shootings involving teens over the weekend. On Saturday, a 15-year-old was shot after an altercation outside a restaurant near Sout Havana Street and East Warren Avenue. He's still in critical condition.

Late Sunday evening, an APD tweet said officers were also investigating a shooting at the 1700 block of North Chester Street where an 18-year-old was shot. According to the tweet, the victim was taken to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

"The city does have a public health crisis when it comes to youth violence," said Christina Amparan, Aurora's Youth Violence Prevention Program Manager.

The new program was created in April to target youth violence. It came after the City of Aurora made a compact agreement with the City and County of Denver in 2020 to work with community leaders, families, philanthropic organizations, government officials and other stakeholders to reduce youth violence across the Metro Area.

While Amparan said violent crime among youth in Aurora is down this year, over the span of many years, it's increasing.

"There's a lot of concern around gangs, youth having access to guns, but also youth that don't have connections to positive adult figures," Amparan said.

While long term, the goal is to work on a comprehensive plan, Amparan's program is already implementing immediate solutions. She said the group is currently working with at-risk youth, doing community assessments, and hosting pop-up events where teens can access resources.

"Data has shown that the more community activation we have in our communities, the more we can lessen some of the criminal behavior that's in some of those neighborhoods," Amparan said.

There are several of those pop-up events planned for next weekend. You'll find a calendar of events on the program's website.

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