AURORA, Colo. — A 16-year-old male was arrested after three juvenile students were shot just after noon Friday in the parking lot of Hinkley High School. Two people were being questioned Friday evening about their possible involvement in the shooting, Aurora police said.
The Aurora Police Department initially said two individuals were shot and transported to a hospital. At 1:50 p.m., Aurora police said a third person had been shot and self-transported to the hospital. One of the initial victims also transported themselves to a hospital, the police department said in a news release Friday evening.
The Aurora Police Department said Friday evening in the news release that the three who were shot are a 16-year-old male who attends APS Avenues; a 17-year-old female Hinkley High School Student; and a 17-year-old male Hinkley High School student.
At 10:21. p.m., APD confirmed a 16-year-old was taken into custody and charged with attempted murder. Police said the suspect was not among the shooting victims. Aurora police did not release his identity.
One of the male students has since been released from the hospital, according to Aurora police, and is now interviewing with investigators to determine his involvement.
Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson said in a 3 p.m. update it was not clear at the time who were the suspects in the shooting and who were the victims, but all three were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.
"There were numerous shell casings, of different calibers, that were found on scene," Aurora Police spokesperson Matthew Longshore said in the news release Friday evening. "Investigators are still trying to determine the exact involvement of those who were shot in this incident."
An APS security officer returned fire and applied a tourniquet to one of the students who as injured, Wilson said. She said it was possible one of the injured students was shot by the officer, but the news release said it was still not clear Friday evening whether his shots struck anyone.
Wilson said the shooting started as a fight in the parking lot. In the Friday evening news release, Longshore said shortly after the fight, a white pickup truck with several people inside drove through the parking lot and people from inside it started shooting.
Wilson said it was possible, but not confirmed, that Friday’s shooting was related to Monday’s shooting at a park just north of Aurora Central High School but that investigators “don’t want to make assumptions.” In the 6 p.m. news release, Longshore said detectives were still working to figure out if that is the case.
Earlier this week, six students from Aurora Central High School were shot at Nome Park near E. 12th Avenue and Nome Street, just north of Aurora Central High School. Central is about 11 minutes away from Hinkley High School. Police are still searching for the suspects in that shooting.
Wilson said that there were also threats made this week to Rangeview High School and to Gateway High School this week regarding shootings.
Two people were being questioned in relation to the shooting Friday evening and Longshore said there might still be others who were involved.
"Detectives will be reviewing video surveillance from the school, cellphone videos that have been published on social media, continue speaking to numerous witnesses and examine the physical evidence on scene to help positively identify those that could be involved," Longshore said in the news release.
Wilson implored parents to get more involved with their kids, saying the recent shootings involved students who have “no concerns for life” and asked the parents to check their kids’ phones, cars and rooms for guns.
“We cannot do it alone,” she said. “We are tired of this.”
Wilson asked anyone with tips or videos of the shooting to submit them to Aurora police or Metro Denver Crime Stoppers. Investigators do have partial video evidence of the shooting, she added. People can call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867 and could be eligible for a reward of up to $2,0000.
"People know what happened here today," Wilson said. "These kids have guns; they got them from somewhere. Parents need to start checking their kids phones, rooms and pay attention to who they are hanging around."
Investigators also took custody of the white pickup truck believed to be connected to the shooting, but Wilson said she could not comment further if anyone was in custody with respect to the truck.
Aurora police said Aurora Public Schools initiated a phased release for the school starting at 2 p.m. Some cars in the parking lot were not be able to be retrieved immediately because they are within the crime scene. By 8:37 p.m., Aurora police said anyone whose car was still at the parking lot could come get it. Damaged cars should have business cards on them with a case number for insurance.
The Aurora Public Schools athletic director canceled all after-school sports and activities for Friday.
Angel Rodriguez, 16, said he was just getting back from lunch when he heard multiple gun shots. He said other students had sent him videos of people who had been hit but did not say further about whether those injured were students or not.
He said it was pretty scary having the shooting occur just days after the shooting near Aurora Central High School, where he also knows a student.
“It makes me feel uneasy or startled, because just thinking about how everything is violent makes me not want to be at school anymore,” Rodriguez said. “…To the families out there that it happened to, I send prayers to them. It’s pretty scary getting a phone call saying your child has been shot.”
Rodriguez said the latest shooting was “outrageous.”
“We’ve got half the police department here just because of these two shootings,” he said. “All of this is not normal. It’s hard to process.”
Nevelyn Rojas, a junior at Hinkley High School, said she was returning from lunch when she heard the sirens and saw police cars headed to the school. She said she was worried because her brother was still in the school, but confirmed he's safe.
Victor, a 16-year-old junior at the school who did not provide his last name, said he and friends were at lunch when the shooting occurred. He said he heard "a lot of gunshots" and that students started panicking. A paraprofessional told students to run away from the area the shooting occurred and out toward the football field, Victor said.
"This is messed up. No one deserves this," he told Denver7.
Jalil Mitchell, 15, said he and his friends handle the violence differently depending on how they grew up. But he said he’s had support from several adults in his life thus far, including a local boxing and mixed-martial arts studio. And he said he feels there needs to be more opportunities for youth in Aurora.
“This summer, we had a camp out in Estes Park. We got our own rooms and stuff. I went swimming and all that fun stuff. If you have more fun stuff like that, we wouldn’t really be in the places we are right now,” Mitchell said.
A peace march that had been planned in the wake of Monday's shooting around the time Friday's shooting occurred was postponed. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said he was on the way to the event when the shooting happened as he drove by the high school.
"I thought, 'Oh my God, please don't let this be another shooting,'" Coffman said. "...I was informed at that time that there was a second shooting. ... What a tragedy; and this really does rise to be to an epidemic level."
"There's just sort of that sick feeling that you get when you hear about that. ... [I] flash back to when I first heard about Columbine," said Reid Hettich, the pastor at the nearby Mosaic Church of Aurora, who was set to take part in the event. "It's just like younger, younger kids. And that, to me, is the most troubling part."
Coffman said Aurora was working with Denver on a youth violence program and that he had talked to Gov. Jared Polis Thursday and told him a "whole of government" approach to addressing the violence was needed.
"We really need to assemble local leaders, but both at the municipal and state level, and all the stakeholders — to have educators, to have faith leaders involved in trying to navigate a path forward, but not to deal with this on a piecemeal basis," Coffman said. "I hope that as the facts become know, that if that is something that [Polis] unites with us in terms of how to move forward."
Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly said in a statement that Aurora residents and others should commit their time and resources to its Youth Violence Prevention Program to identify ways for more solutions to stop the violence.
“This week’s violence near our schools is heartbreaking, and I cannot begin to imagine the pain and anguish experienced by the victims and their families. In addition, teachers and students at our schools are impacted by this outbreak of violence,” Twombly said. “Our community is still reeling from the shooting of six teenagers on Monday, and we find ourselves facing yet another senseless act of violence. It is the responsibility of all community members and stakeholders to invest in the safety of our youth.”
The Aurora Democratic legislative delegation, which includes Sen. Rhonda Fields, Sen. Janet Buckner and Reps. Mike Weissman, Dominique Jackson, Naquetta Ricks, Iman Jodeh and Dafna Michaelson Jenet, released a statement saying they were devastated by this week’s shootings.
“As we await further details from today’s act of violence at Hinkley High School, our hearts are with the victims, their families, and all the students in Aurora schools. Our community is in pain and our kids are scared.”
“Too many of our children have experienced gun violence. Too many parents have had to pick up their kids early, and too many teachers have had to put their classrooms into locked,” the delegation added. “We cannot become numb to this tragic reality. So far in 2021, there have been at least 138 incidents of gunfire on school grounds across the country. We need to treat gun violence like the epidemic it is.”
John Kellner, the 18th Judicial District Attorney, also issued a statement regarding the shooting.
“This is the second shooting in Aurora this week that has impacted students’ ability to feel safe at school. No child or teenager should be fearful just going to class – a normal activity we can all relate to,” Kellner said. “Our community rightly is demanding an end to this violence, and we will stand with them in using every tool we have to prosecute aggressively anyone connected to these attacks on students.”
Denver7's Pattrik Perez and Gary Brode contributed to this report.
This is a developing story and will be updated.