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Mother of teen gun violence victim reacts to Aurora weekend shooting that killed 13-year-old

Youth Violence Prevention Program grant applications accepted through Friday
Victim in Aurora weekend shooting was only 13-years-old
Posted at 5:35 AM, Mar 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-28 07:39:25-04

AURORA — A shooting at The Town Center at Aurora mall on Saturday night killed a 13-year-old teenager, according to the Aurora Police Department's interim police chief.

As of Monday evening, an arrest has not been made in the case.

READ MORE: Aurora police chief pleads for lawmakers to 'get serious' about juvenile crime after violent weekend

Interim Police Chief Art Acevedo said he hopes to discuss a curfew for people under the age of 18 with the city.

"This is an American tragedy that we're seeing unfold," he said. “We need to admit it and we need to address it because what we're doing in this state is just not working, and in this country, I might add.”

Mother of teen gun violence victim reacts to Aurora weekend shooting that killed 13-year-old

Sonya Collier's youngest son was killed by gun violence in the summer of 2020 in Denver. Xzavier Collier was only 14 years old.

“He was a very sweet kid. Very loving and very smart. He was in ninth grade just trying to find himself," Sonya said about her son. “It does not get any easier, it gets harder.”

Learning the victim in the Aurora shooting over the weekend was 13 years old breaks her heart.

“I know the pain that they're [the family is] feeling. It hurts," Sonya said.

Sonya is part of a group for mothers who have lost their children called A Mother's Love.

RELATED: A Mother's Love: A support group for moms who have lost children

The Youth Violence Prevention Program manager for the City of Aurora, Joseph DeHerrera, said the program wants to work collaboratively across city boundaries to address the issue.

“Aurora is so unique. It's so diverse. We are going to other cities to see what they've done, what's worked well, what hasn't worked well for them," DeHerrera explained. “We're not trying to replicate something specifically. We're really working to make sure we're pulling components from different cities and making Aurora unique.”

DeHerrera said recently the group visited Milwaukee, and has had conversations with cities like Oakland, Las Vegas, and Baltimore.

“These kids are either joining gangs or getting involved in this type of behavior, because they're needing something they're not getting. Whether that's love, whether that's attention that they're needing. So they're acting out, because they're wanting to get some of that attention," DeHerrera said. “They're telling us what they need, and we need to respond with giving them what they're needing. Making them feel valued, making them feel that they do matter.”

The Youth Violence Prevention Program has a grant opportunity which is accepting applications for intervention or prevention work surrounding youth violence. Applications can be submitted until March 31 at 5 p.m.

"If you have an idea, even if it's a pipe dream, let's talk about it. And let's see what we can do and what we can come up with because there's no bad ideas at this point," DeHerrera said.

To submit an application, reach out to the program by sending an email to

Denver7 reached out to the mall, and received the following statement:

We are deeply saddened by this incident. We are working closely with the Aurora Police Department as they investigate this isolated incident. Out of respect for the individual and their loved ones, we have no further comment. Please contact the Aurora Police Department at (303) 739-6000 for additional information.
Spokesperson, Town Center at Aurora

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