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Juvenile arrested after teen girl shot, killed in Denver's Montbello neighborhood

Aaliyah Cortez, 16, and her older sister were stopped at a stop sign she was fatally shot.
Aaliyah Cortez
Posted at 10:13 PM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-14 00:14:47-05

DENVER — An arrest has been made after a 16-year-old girl was shot and killed while she was stopped at a stop sign in Denver's Montbello neighborhood Wednesday.

Family members identified the victim as Aaliyah Cortez, 16. Her family said she was heading to her grandmother’s house with her older sister, Jennifer, when they were approached by the suspects.

“Jennifer was driving. And I guess when everything happened, they pulled up to a stop sign or something. And she was lost. She was trying to get through Montbello because she took a route that she normally didn't take. And she was looking up the GPS when the individual came up to the window with the pistol,” said Daniel Gonzalez, Aaliyah’s stepfather.

The Denver Police Department says the shooting happened around 6:20 p.m when the two girls were inside a vehicle and stopped in the 5400 block of North Atchison Way. The suspect approached the vehicle, produced a firearm and shot Aaliyah one time, according to Denver police.

“[Jennifer] mentioned like she tried to give Aaliyah a sign to hop in the back. Aaliyah took it as a sign that she needed help. So, she tried to fight him off as Jenny was trying to drive off. The gun went off, and he did strike her. The wound did cause a lot of internal damage,” said Gonzalez.

The stepfather said Jennifer described seeing two teen male suspects.

“There was two. I guess one was, like, kind of behind the other, like towards the back of him when he was going up to them at the stop sign," he said.

Aaliyah was transported to the hospital, where she later died

A juvenile male was arrested in connection to the case, Denver PD announced Friday. He is being held for investigation of first-degree murder.

Since the arrestee is a juvenile, Denver PD cannot release additional information, including his name or an arrest affidavit.

The Denver District Attorney's Office will make the final determination regarding charges.

The family has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs of Aaliyah’s funeral expenses. They are hosting a benefit between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22 at The Spot 2.0, located at 8880 Washington in Thornton.