AURORA, Colo. — Aurora police investigators continued working Monday to identify a suspect in the shooting death of a teenage boy outside the Town Center at Aurora mall.
The victim, who has not been publicly identified, was 13 years old, according to family members.
He was shot Saturday evening in the parking lot outside the Dillard’s at Town Center at Aurora, located at 14200 E. Alameda Ave.
It was the latest in a series of shootings – several fatal – inside and outside the mall over the past two decades.
“Malls are places where young people gather – quite honestly, young people without supervision gather,” said Aurora’s interim police chief, Art Acevedo. “I don’t think it’s a unique issue to the Aurora Mall. If you look around the country, malls sometimes end up with these issues.”
Acevedo said he believes the most recent shooting is a reflection of a surge in youth violence in recent years.
In 2019, Aurora experienced two homicides that involved a juvenile suspect. Last year, that number was nine.
“The problem is, when you have the numbers that you see – and then you have an almost a perfect storm, where too many juveniles are not being held accountable, or helped, for god’s sakes, in terms of trying to get them on the right trajectory,” Acevedo said. “I think that’s what we’re facing right now, not just here, but across the country.”
Acevedo said he believes multiple factors are at play.
First, he believes juveniles who commit crimes aren’t held accountable.
Second, while he lauded the state’s universal pre-kindergarten education program, he believes not enough is being done to keep youngsters engaged and in school.
And third, he said it’s too easy for kids to get guns.
“It’s not a piece of jewelry – it’s a deadly weapon,” Acevedo said. “Just this morning I learned that one of our officers took a loaded 9mm gun out of a high school student here in our city, so, there’s firearms all over the place.”
None of that, he said, has anything to do with the Aurora mall.
“We’re focusing on the mall today, but sadly last week we’re talking about a high school, tomorrow it’ll be a park.”
9NEWS reporter Kelly Reinke contributed to this report.
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