AURORA, Colo. — Nearly two weeks after two separate school shootings in Aurora, city officials and community members came together for a prayer vigil at Nome Park. It's the same park where six teens from Aurora Central High School were shot.
Saturday was the second time an attempt had been made to bring peace. The first was a Peace March, set to take place just minutes before the shooting in the parking lot of Hinkley high school.
This community is asking for strength and understanding as they deal with what they call an "epidemic."
"Today, I just want to pray for the home lives of these students. I want to pray that their houses are a place where they can find refuge and safety and rest," a pastor said.
This community gathered with hopes of understanding the power of prayer and how it can resonate throughout a community shaken by gun violence after nine students were shot in a week.
"It's really important to remember that these weren't school incidences. These were violent things that were happening in our community that really seeped into our schools. And we want to make sure that we address all the needs and issues surrounding what's happening with our kids," said Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn.
Getting to the root of the problem is why Munn and others were at this prayer vigil. Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson was also front and center.
"I think it's amazing that they heard a call to action not just from me but from other city leaders, and for the people that are living this reality of gun violence. And they came out today, and they came out in force, and to pray and to say that they want to be part of the solution," said Wilson.
She hopes those who came out to address the problem will stick around to become part of the solution.
"And I think the solution is giving our youth a voice and listening to them and being there as mentors for them," Wilson said.
Time and time again, Chief Wilson has asked for the public's help. And she's pleased they're getting it.
"The community is saying they hear us, and realize that we can't do it alone and that the police department needs the community's help. People can come out and talk the talk, but we need them to walk the walk. So that's what we're hoping for. And we're really thankful this happened here today," Wilson said.
Aurora Police and Aurora Public Schools are implementing new tactics that include increased mental support for students, enhanced partnerships with Aurora Police, and no-off campus lunch for students starting Monday until Christmas Break.
"We love our kids. That's why we're in this work is to protect our kids, see them have a successful future. And to see them robbed of that whether it's through violence or other things, it's incredibly painful," Munn said.
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