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District attorney says aspects of Aurora mall shooting were "gang related"

Posted at 3:53 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 19:34:34-05

AURORA, Colo. – Police and city leaders met with mall management Thursday to talk about safety following a deadly shooting at the Town Center in Aurora and the district attorney said aspects of the crime were gang-related.

"It doesn't matter how many times they change the name of that mall, it continues to seem to have periodically the same issues and those issues tend to revolve around gangs," 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler said. "We know that there were aspects of that crime that were gang-related."

The man accused of shooting and killing a 17-year-old boy at the Aurora Town Center last Friday made his first court appearance Monday as the police department said it was working with the shopping mall to make changes to increase safety there.

The city, police or mall management refused to share specific details Thursday on when they met or what details were discussed about improving safety at the mall.

Kamyl Xavier Garrette, 18, is being held without bond following Monday’s court appearance and is set to be formally charged on Jan. 6. He is accused of shooting and killing Nathan Poindexter,17, in the JCPenney store and is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder.

Poindexter’s uncle, Damon Jones, said an argument led to a fight and then the shooting, while Poindexter was at the mall with his family. It was at least the fourth shooting at the mall in 2019, two of which left people dead.

Brauchler couldn't explain the uptick in violence but said when gangs are involved solving any crime becomes more difficult.

"The clock wheel phrase is snitches get stitches," he said.

Aurora police have said an officer is already assigned to the mall full time and it's still unclear what more mall management can do if gang members chose to hang out there.

"This gang thing isn't going to go away by itself," Brauchler said. "It's not going to go away because we ignore it or refuse to put a label on it. It only goes away when we are active and vigorous about ending it."

The mall's management company, Washington Prime Group, released a statement after the shooting: "The safety of our guests, retailers and employees is our top priority. We are working closely with the Aurora Police Department as they investigate this incident."