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Mother of 15-year-old shot, killed at Southlands Mall shares how she wants her son to be remembered

Raphael Velin, a student at Vista PEAK Preparatory, was well on his way to becoming a talented barber, according to his mom.
Raphael Velin
Posted at 10:28 PM, Oct 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-05 00:49:54-04

AURORA, Colo. — The mother of Raphael Velin, the 15-year-old who was shot and killed at Southlands Mall in Aurora, sat down exclusively with Denver7 to share how she wants her son to be remembered.

"He was a very good boy, a great helper. He helped me at home," said Nancy Velin.

Since Raphael was a young boy, he was a sweet and caring big brother for his younger sister, according to his mother. He played soccer throughout his childhood. And in his teen years, he was well-on-his-way to becoming a talented barber.

Raphael Velin

"He was watching YouTube, and he learned everything from there," said Nancy.

Hair design was his passion, and his business was just getting started.

"He said, 'Maybe for Christmas, you guys can get me a chair.' Because he bought a second-hand chair. He said, 'You can buy me a better chair.' I said, 'Yeah. We can do that,'" said Nancy.

In many ways, Raphael, a sophomore at Vista PEAK Preparatory, was wise beyond his years.

"We talked with him always about the danger in the world. But he always said, 'I’m strong momma.' Like he can take care of himself, but he’s only 15," said Nancy.

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15-year-old shot, killed outside Southlands Mall in Aurora

Jeff Anastasio
7:40 AM, Oct 01, 2023

The shooting was reported at around 9:30 p.m. Saturday in a parking lot outside Southlands Mall where a large group of people, including teens from Smoky Hill and Grandview high schools were celebrating homecoming, witnesses told Denver7.

First responders arrived and found Raphael suffering from a gunshot wound. He was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

Investigators believe the murder occurred during a pre-planned meeting between the involved parties, according to an initial media release from the Aurora Police Department. Raphael's mother said she got a phone call from him earlier that evening, and he said he was heading to the mall to meet up with friends.

Police said four to five suspects took off after the shooting in a black four-door sedan. The sedan was later recovered, but police are still searching for the suspects.

Raphael Velin

Even though the Velin family is feeling immense pain from this tragedy, Raphel's mother said there's no hate in her heart for the suspects who took her son from her.

"I feel sorry for them," she said.

Aurora PD is asking witnesses from the area, along with residents from the Wheatlands neighborhood near the mall to check surveillance cameras, including home security cameras, to see if anything from the incident was recorded.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

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