Community meeting

Aurora Community Meeting to Address Youth Violence

The reunion comes after nine teenagers were gunned down near high schools in Aurora in a week.

AURORA, Colorado – The ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Colorado Church of God in Christ Youth Department held a “state of emergency” meeting on Sunday in reference to two separate shootings that left nine teenagers injured last week in Aurora.

Religious leaders and community groups have given young people a place to share and learn about organizations that are there to help them.

Inside Aurora’s church during the emergency meeting, a person’s faith or religion didn’t matter.

“It’s about the safety of our young people,” said Pastor AJ McDonald.

The space was open to young people to share and adults to listen and help.

“Why do younger people think hurting others can make them feel better? A young girl asked.

The youth engaged in difficult and honest conversations to tell the group what the youth need right now.

“A lot of us think we have to carry guns because someone else carries a gun, so we would rather have our own safety than someone else’s,” said one young man.

“You have to start with these 11-year-olds who are at home and they see their siblings in their rooms, they see the guns, they see the drugs,” said another student.

On Sunday, many young people felt comfortable sharing their experiences. Many people who provide services to adolescents have understood what they are going through.

“My son would be 2,” said Sharletta Evans, executive director of the Colorado Crime Survivors Network. “I lost him. He died in my arms by the hands of three teenagers who wanted to carry guns, break into houses, steal a car and go out shooting.”

The emergency meeting took place less than a mile from Hinkley High School, where three teenagers were gunned down in the campus parking lot on Friday. Police arrested three 16-year-old suspects. The incident is linked to a gang, according to Aurora police.

The other shooting took place on Monday in Nome Park near Aurora Central High School. Six students were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds. The APD has not located the suspects in this case.

The APD said the two shootings were unrelated.

The impact of last week’s violence goes beyond the campuses of these two high schools. What mattered most to Sunday’s meeting was finding ways to keep the young people safe.

Towards the end of the meeting, there was a push to open a youth center in Aurora so that the children had a place to go. One of the speakers called on everyone to contact city council members on Monday to make this happen.