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APD and local leaders react to string of teen gun violence in the city

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Posted at 9:42 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 23:42:52-04

AURORA, Colo. — Five teens have been shot in Aurora since Friday, and it's a continuing violent trend the community hopes will end.

The most recent shooting happened Wednesday on 13th Avenue where two 17-year-olds were shot, who are both expected to be OK, according to the Aurora Police Department.

Joel Renderos Villa, 16, was killed Friday night while in his car at Ironton Street and 12th Avenue. His passenger, also a 16-year-old boy, survived.

The next day, a 15-year-old was shot in the afternoon at S. Havana Street and E. Warren Avenue. He remains in critical condition.

"I can’t pinpoint why we’ve seen this in the last week,"said Mark Hildebrand with the Aurora Police Department.

Hildebrand believes part of the reason for the spike in youth gun violence is the amount of guns in kids hands. The City of Aurora began a youth crime prevention program back in April run by Christina Amaparan. The program is specified for each child at risk.

"One youth might be going through mental health," Amparan said. "Gang involvement maybe because they’re coming from a multigenerational family or maybe because there's not enough food on the table."

Programs like Struggle of Love have been helping kids get off the streets for years. Elijah Beauford is one of the kids who took that guidance and now acts as a role model.

"They have to know that it’s cool to own your own business and that is cool to be Black or brown and hold more value than being from the hood or a gang member," the 22-year-old said.

Just over a week ago, Struggle of Love lost one of their own when Jaden Phillips was shot and killed in Aurora.

"This one took a lot out of me. This one took a lot of wind out of my sails. It honestly had me questioning if I wanted to continue working on this field because we go through this so much and we would develop relationships with these kids, and Jaden was no different,"said Jason McBride from Struggle of Love.

McBride is a secondary violence prevention specialist for the foundation. He wants more focus on mental health in schools. All of the leaders we spoke to acknowledge the struggles this pandemic has put kids through.

"We all went through a pandemic. As adults, our psyche is not where it needs to be but we are people who can handle those things. What about kids who don’t have an outlet?" McBride said.

No arrests have been made in any of the shootings. APD has not released a description of any of the suspects.