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3 people shot in high school parking lot in Colorado

This marks the second shooting near an Aurora high school this week
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Posted at 1:16 PM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 19:25:14-05

AURORA, Colo. — Authorities in Colorado say three people were shot Friday afternoon in the parking lot of a high school in Aurora.

The Aurora Police Department initially said two individuals were shot and transported to a hospital. Still, at 1:50 p.m., local time, police said a third person had been shot, and they hauled themselves to the hospital.

"This is a very active scene still," the police department said on Twitter.

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said in a 3 p.m. update that there were multiple shooters involved and that three injured students included two from Hinkley High School and one from APS Avenues.

But she said it was not clear at the time who were the suspects in the shooting and who were the victims, but all three were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

An APS security officer returned fire and applied a tourniquet to one of the injured students, Wilson said. She said one of the wounded students might have been shot by the officer. Wilson said the shooting started as a fight in the parking lot.

Wilson said it was possible, but not confirmed, that Friday’s shooting was related to Monday’s shooting at a park just north of Aurora Central High School but that investigators “don’t want to make assumptions.”

Wilson said that threats were made this week to Rangeview High School and Gateway High School regarding shootings.

Wilson implored parents to get more involved with their kids, saying the recent shootings involved students who have “no concerns for life” and asked the parents to check their kids’ phones, cars, and rooms for guns.

“We cannot do it alone,” she said. “We are tired of this.”

Wilson asked anyone with tips or videos of the shooting to submit them to Aurora police or Metro Denver Crime Stoppers. Investigators do have partial video evidence of the shooting, she added.

"People know what happened here today," Wilson said. "These kids have guns; they got them from somewhere. Parents need to start checking their kids' phones, rooms and pay attention to who they are hanging around."

Investigators have also taken custody of a white pickup truck believed to be connected to the shooting. Still, Wilson said she could not comment further if anyone were in custody with respect to the truck.

The Aurora Public Schools athletic director canceled all after-school sports and activities for Friday.

Nevelyn Rojas, a junior at Hinkley High School, said she was returning from lunch when she heard the sirens and saw police cars headed to the school. She said she was worried because her brother was still in the school but confirmed he was safe.

Victor, a junior at the school who did not provide his last name, said he and his friends were at lunch when the shooting occurred.

He said he heard "a lot of gunshots" and that students started panicking.

A paraprofessional told students to run away from the area the shooting occurred and out toward the football field, Victor said.

"This is messed up. No one deserves this," Victor told KMGH.

Angel Rodriguez, 16, said he was just getting back from lunch when he hurt multiple gunshots. He said other students had sent him videos of people who had been hit but did not say further about whether those injured were students or not.

He said it was pretty scary having the shooting occurred just days after the shooting near Aurora Central High School, where he also knows a student.

“It makes me feel uneasy or startled because just thinking about how everything is violent makes me not want to be at school anymore,” Rodriguez said. “…To the families out there that it happened to, I send prayers to them. It’s pretty scary getting a phone call saying your child has been shot.”

Rodriguez said the latest shooting was “outrageous.”

“We’ve got half the police department here just because of these two shootings,” he said. “All of this is not normal. It’s hard to process.”

Jalil Mitchell, 15, said he and his friends handle the violence differently depending on growing up. But he said he’s had support from several adults in his life thus far, including a local boxing and mixed-martial arts studio. And he said he feels there need to be more opportunities for youth in Aurora.

“This summer, we had a camp out in Estes Park. We got our own rooms and stuff. I went swimming and all that fun stuff. If you have more fun stuff like that, we wouldn’t really be in the places we are right now,” Mitchell said.

A peace march was planned in the wake of Monday's shooting, around Friday's shooting was postponed. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said he was on the way to the event when the shooting happened as he drove by the high school.

"I thought, 'Oh my God, please don't let this be another shooting,'" Coffman said. "...I was informed at that time that there was a second shooting. ... What a tragedy, and this does rise to be to an epidemic level."

"There's just sort of that sick feeling that you get when you hear about that. ... [I] flashback to when I first heard about Columbine," said Reid Hettich, the pastor at the nearby Mosaic Church of Aurora, who was set to take part in the event. "It's just like younger, younger kids. And that, to me, is the most troubling part."

Coffman said Aurora was working with Denver on a youth violence program and that he had talked to Gov. Jared Polis Thursday and told him a "whole of government" approach to addressing the violence was needed.

"We really need to assemble local leaders, but both at the municipal and state level, and all the stakeholders — to have educators, to have faith leaders involved in trying to navigate a path forward, but not to deal with this on a piecemeal basis," Coffman said. "I hope that as the facts become known, that if that is something that [Polis] unites with us in terms of how to move forward."

Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said in a statement that Aurora residents and others should commit their time and resources to its Youth Violence Prevention Program to identify ways for more solutions to stop the violence.

“This week’s violence near our schools is heartbreaking, and I cannot begin to imagine the pain and anguish experienced by the victims and their families. In addition, teachers and students at our schools are impacted by this outbreak of violence,” Twombly said. “Our community is still reeling from the shooting of six teenagers on Monday, and we find ourselves facing yet another senseless act of violence. It is the responsibility of all community members and stakeholders to invest in the safety of our youth.”

The Aurora Democratic legislative delegation, which includes Sen. Rhonda Fields, Sen. Janet Buckner, and Reps. Mike Weissman, Dominique Jackson, Naquetta Ricks, Iman Jodeh, and Dafna Michaelson Jenet released a statement saying they were devastated by this week’s shootings.

“As we await further details from today’s act of violence at Hinkley High School, our hearts are with the victims, their families, and all the students in Aurora schools. Our community is in pain, and our kids are scared.”

“Too many of our children have experienced gun violence. Too many parents have had to pick up their kids early, and too many teachers have had to put their classrooms locked,” the delegation added. “We cannot become numb to this tragic reality. So far in 2021, there have been at least 138 incidents of gunfire on school grounds across the country. We need to treat gun violence like the epidemic it is.”

John Kellner, the 18th Judicial District Attorney, also stated the shooting.

“This is the second shooting in Aurora this week that has impacted students’ ability to feel safe at school. No child or teenager should be fearful just going to class – a normal activity we can all relate to,” Kellner said. “Our community rightly is demanding an end to this violence, and we will stand with them in using every tool we have to prosecute aggressively anyone connected to these attacks on students.”

This week, six Aurora Central High School students were shot at a park just north of Aurora Central High School.

Central is about 11 minutes away from Hinkley High School.

Police are still searching for the suspects in that shooting.

A peace march was planned in the wake of Monday's shooting, around the time Friday's shooting was postponed. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said he was on the way to the event when the shooting happened as he drove by the high school.

Stephanie Butzer, Pattrik Perez, and Gary Brode at KMGH first reported this story.