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Denver police arrest suspect in killing of 14-year-old boy outside Southwest Recreation Center

A 17-year-old is facing a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death of Josiaz "JoJo" Aragon in August.

DENVER — Denver police have arrested a teenage suspect in connection with the killing of a 14-year-old boy. 

The Denver Police Department (DPD) said in a release Saturday that a 17-year-old boy is accused of killing Josiaz "JoJo" Aragon in August. 

The suspect is being held for investigation of first-degree murder, aggravated robbery, tampering with physical evidence in a felony crime and possession of a handgun by a juvenile. 

Police said they found Aragon dead with apparent signs of trauma outside the Southwest Recreation Center on West Saratoga Place on the afternoon of Aug. 8. It was two days before his 15th birthday.

An autopsy revealed Aragon had been beaten, stabbed and shot, and that the manner of death was homicide.

Police said Aragon and the suspect knew each other and had previously gone to school together, and that the crime happened during the sale of a gun. They aren't saying who was selling the gun to whom. 

RELATED: 14-year-old boy found dead at Denver recreation center was beaten, stabbed and shot

DPD said Aragon's death led to an extensive, complex investigation that resulted in the identification of the suspect. They obtained an arrest warrant Friday, and the suspect was taken into custody in southwest Denver Friday night. 

Credit: Denver Police Department
Josiaz "JoJo" Aragon

"This was not a random encounter, this was not a chance encounter – this was a planned meeting that ended tragically," said DPD Commander Matt Clark with the major crimes division. 

Denver City Council member Kevin Flynn was also in attendance at the press conference, and commended both law enforcement and neighbors of the recreation center. 

“It’s no lie when the chief says when the community really produced information that was helpful," he said. 

After the crime happened, Flynn said a meeting was held to talk about safety in the neighborhood. He said around 140 neighbors showed up. 

“It’s just heartbreaking what happened here. Heartbreaking for us, heartbreaking for the Aragon family and I can only hope what happened with this arrest will help the Aragon family to bear the unbearable and that’s the loss of their child," Flynn said. 

Meanwhile, Denver Parks and Recreation Director Allegra "Happy" Haynes was also in attendance and said that she would be working with councilman Flynn as well as the Denver Police Department to find ways to make the facility safer. 

A handful of neighbors that live near the park hope for youth services to help with things like violence prevention. 

“I do hope we can think about changes and helping kids, helping families," said Paula Engle, who has lived in the neighborhood for around 30 years. "The rec center is the community center and hopefully we can build better community through proactive engagement with Parks and Rec and Denver Police and think about the social services that need to be plugged into that."

Police said tips from the public helped them identify the suspect. His name is not being released because he is a juvenile. 

RELATED: Victim identified in shooting on Chambers Road in Aurora

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