AURORA, Colo. — Police in Aurora said six teenagers ages 14 to 18 were hospitalized following a shooting at a park near a high school Monday afternoon. All are expected to survive, and police said the suspects remain at large.
The shooting occurred sometime after noon at Nome Park near East 12th Avenue and Nome Street, just north of Aurora Central High School. All six victims are students at the school, police said.
Police said no shots were fired inside the school, which was placed on a "secured perimeter" status after the incident. The district canceled classes for the day, according to a Twitter message from the Aurora Police Department. Parents were seen outside the school picking up their kids.
Five of the six victims were transported by ambulance to area hospitals. A sixth victim, an 18-year-old, self-transported to the hospital with minor injuries, police said. Children's Hospital confirmed that three of the teens were treated at their facility. The hospital said all three were "stable" and were reunited with their families.
The victims were identified by the police department as the following: a 14-year-old male; a 15-year-old female; a 16-year-old male; a 16-year-old female; a 17-year-old male; and an 18-year-old male.
Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson described the injuries as non-life-threatening during a press conference later in the day. She said one of the victims had a tourniquet applied to their wound by a school resource officer at the scene and underwent emergency surgery at the hospital.
The police department said in a 6:30 p.m. news release that officers applied tourniquets to at least two of the victims.
"We want to thanks the Aurora Police Department (APD) and our security officers for their heroic response and support after the shooting. We had APD School Resource Officers and APS security officers who rushed to provide emergency care for the victims," Aurora Public Schools Board of Education Presidet Dr. Kyla Armstrong-Romero said in a statement. "...We are disgusted by this and other senseless acts of violence against our children who are the future of our community."
Wilson said several rounds of different calibers were collected from the scene and said it's likely multiple suspects in vehicles and on foot were involved. No arrests have been made and descriptions were not provided as she urged the community to come forward with any relevant information they may have, including any possible Ring video of the shooting.
“I need the public’s help. I need us all to be outraged by what happened here today,” Wilson said.
Wilson said they have reached out for resources for the victims' families and commented during the press conference on the rise of teen violence in the city and around the country.
“Obviously this is a very concerning incident for this city as well as for this nation. I think what we’re seeing is a public health crisis, really when we think about gun violence anymore,” Wilson said.
It's a sentiment echoed by Aurora City Manager Jim Twombly, who released a statement condemning youth violence.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. Today’s incident is deeply troubling. Violence involving teenagers and young adults is distressing and is sadly a public health problem in communities across the nation. The safety of young people in our community is a priority and that is why we have joined with other metro communities in working collaboratively to address youth violence as a public health crisis," Twombly wrote in a statement.
Wilson could not say if the shooting was gang-related. She said investigators are looking at every possible motive for the shooting.
The police department is asking anyone who saw the shooting or has information to call the Aurora Police Major Crimes Unit or Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.
"Aurora Police will increase patrol in the area of Aurora Central High School and Nome Park in the coming days," APD spokesperson Matthew Longshore said in a news release. "Please continue to keep those impacted by this tragedy in your thoughts."
Aurora Public Schools superintendent Rico Munn said in a statement mental health counselors will also be available all week.
"We are disgusted by this and other senseless acts of violence against our children who are the future of our community. We ask for your continued support of the Aurora Central community and we ask each of you to be a proactive part of keeping all of our children safe," a statement from Munn and APS Board of Education President Kyla Armstrong-Romero.
Two Democratic Aurora lawmakers said they were devastated and heartbroken by the latest shooting.
“No mother or father should be afraid to let their son or daughter go play at the park, attend school, or go to the movie theater, yet they are forced to live in fear as gun violence continues to wreak havoc on our communities,” said Sen. Rhonda Fields. “We cannot turn a blind eye to gun violence and we cannot let more kids become a statistic.”
“Too many people are dying by firearms in our country. It is a public health crisis, and we should treat it with the seriousness that demands,” said Rep. Dominique Jackson. “I know our community will come together and help each other heal the pain that we all feel today.”
Gov. Jared Polis said he was saddened by the shooting.
“Our children need to feel safe in parks, in our schools and parents need peace of mind that their students are safe in our neighborhoods. My prayers are with the victims, their families, and all of the concerned students and parents in Aurora,” Polis said in a written statement.