AURORA, Colo. — The annual A-Town All-Star Boys and Girls Basketball Games brings some of the best athletes together. This year, the event was canceled just hours before tip-off due to recent acts of violence.
The Cherry Creek School District announced it would be canceling the games out of an abundance of caution following recent gang-related violence in the Denver metro area.
On March 9, a 16-year-old boy was killed in a shooting at an Aurora hotel. Two days later, a 15-year-old boy was shot and killed near Overland High School, where the games were scheduled to be played.
“That's disturbing. I mean, it's scary," said Shawnee, who was picking up her daughter from Overland High School. "So, after they canceled this one, what's the next event we're going to do to try and protect?”
The district said there was also a threat made against the event.
“It is senseless violence. It just is senseless," said Shawnee. "It is not right for kids to lose their life so young like this."
The Aurora Police Department told Denver7 it had ramped up security for the games and felt confident about the event taking place but left the final decision in the hands of the district.
“This is going to continue if we do not come up with some real different kinds of solutions,” said Reverend Reginald Holmes with the New Covenant Christian Church.
Holmes and Alvertis Simmons have been working to stop gun violence for almost two decades. The two held a gun buyback program in Denver in 2004. They say elected officials need to be more involved in getting guns off the streets.
“The bottom line is there is saturation in the communities where this violence is happening, and that saturation must stop,” said Holmes.
But Holmes and Simmons say there also needs to be a personalized effort, ideally with proper resources.
“We got to go door to door, house to house, and block by block and let these young people know that we care about you, but they cannot... they got to stop the violence," said Simmons. "We got to have resources to do it. We can't just go knock on that door, say, ‘Hey, stop the violence.’ And they say, 'Well, we are hungry.’ And we say, ‘Okay, I'll talk to you later.' That isn’t working, so help us."
The district said there are conversations to reschedule the game for a later date, but until systematic changes happen, Holmes and Simmons believe little will change.
“It has to be a concerted effort,” said Holmes.