A shooting at an Aurora school Friday unfolded as an anti-violence event happened just a few miles away

Allison Sherry/CPR News
Maisha Fields, daughter of state Sen. Rhonda Fields, who lives across the street from Hinkley, emotionally implored parents to pay attention to their kids at a rally against youth violence, Nov. 19, 2021.

Three people were shot in the parking lot of Hinkley High School in Aurora on Friday, according to the Aurora Police Department. Two people are Hinkley students and one is from nearby APS Avenues. 

The shooting started after a fight in the school’s parking lot, said Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson at a media briefing Friday afternoon. There were multiple shooters involved, including an Aurora Public School Security Officer who fired their gun. Police are working to identify who are suspects and who are victims.  

“These are our kids that are shooting one another. We have disrespect and no concern for life whatsoever,” Wilson said. “I need the parents to get involved. I need you checking phones. I need you checking rooms. I need to check in cars and make sure that they're taking these guns away from these kids.”

The school was on lockdown and released students early. All after-school sports and activities were canceled Friday. The shooting is the third in the area this week.

On Monday, six Aurora Central High School students were shot in what Aurora police said was a drive-by shooting at Nome Park, near the high school. One of the victims was an 18-year-old, and the others ranged in age from 14 to 17. All are expected to survive. 

Wilson said police don’t know if the shootings are gang-related or not, but that two other high schools were threatened online. Gateway and Rangeview high schools have had increased police presence in response to the threats.

“We were all shaken by what happened on Monday. My major crime detectives and other district detectives and officers have been working around the clock to solve that case,” Wilson said. “And then as we're driving to a peace march, we have another one. So I'm very frustrated and I think everyone in this community should be very angry.”

A few miles away, Aurora’s clergy and community leaders gathered at an elementary school for an anti-violence event. The gathering, planned earlier this week, was supposed to be a march, but with what had just happened at Hinkley High, Wilson asked organizers to rally on the grounds of an elementary school instead.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman was at the gathering and became emotional when he learned of the shooting. 

"There is just an escalation of youth violence. There are so many questions. How do they get those handguns? What can we do to get them away from them and off the street?" Coffman said.

Nicole Monroe, who works at an anti-violence program for the city and county of Denver, has a child at Hinkley High and was late to the peace march because she had to go make sure everyone was safe.

“No parent wants to get that text,” she said. “We need action. For red tape to go down, for walls to go down, for barriers to go down. We need people who want to help. I don’t want to see my baby hurt and I don’t want to see anyone’s baby hurt.”

Thomas Mayes, a faith leader at the Living Water Christian Center, also called for action — not just thoughts and prayers.

“Let’s pray that we understand that faith without work is dead,” he said. “We can pray all day but until we come together and put boots on the ground and be active, that’s when change can happen.”

Several Democratic members of Aurora's delegation in the Colorado state legislature said in a statement they were devastated by the shooting and their hearts were broken.

“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 lockdown. We cannot become numb to this tragic reality," the statement read.

Chief Wilson said police have not yet identified a connection between the school shootings this week, but it’s possible the incidents are connected.

Police are looking for multiple suspects from Monday’s shooting. Two suspected vehicles were identified by police: a Chrysler 300, black, with dark tint on the windows and a Chevy Tahoe, also black, with a roof rack. The Tahoe was located in a nearby neighborhood and police are following leads on the owners. 

Wilson said a school resource officer at Central saved the life of one of the victims by using a tourniquet. She also asked the public to offer any information they might have on the suspects.  

Aurora police’s major crimes unit will lead the investigation into Monday’s shooting. Both Aurora and Denver police gang units are assisting in the investigation.

CPR Justice Reporter Allison Sherry contributed to this reporting.

This is a developing story and will be updated.