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'We know he's a fighter': East High School student critically injured in shooting

Data shows youth violence is rising in Colorado.

DENVER — A tatter of police tape on the fence surrounding Denver's East High School is the only reminder left Tuesday of the shooting that happened outside the school Monday afternoon.

Denver Police said a 16-year-old East student was shot and critically wounded near the end of the school day Monday. Two teenagers, 16 and 17, were arrested after the shooting. As of Tuesday afternoon, neither suspect faces charges specifically related to the shooting, DPD said.

Family members identified the victim as Luis Garcia

Garcia's older brother, Santos Garcia, said he can't talk or open his eyes, but was able to squeeze family members' hands on Tuesday.

"He's trying his best, and we see life in him," Santos Garcia said. "We all have faith, because it feels so unreal this situation is happening to him. We know he's a fighter and he's going to work through this, and we all have faith in him."

Santos Garcia describes his brother as a hard worker, loyal friend and the spirit of the family. He loves to play soccer and sometimes wanted to wake up at 5 a.m. to train. 

"He's always friendly," Santos Garcia said. "He talks to everyone. He's always making everyone laugh. I have zero clue as to why anyone would do that - to anyone to be honest. We were all caught by this. Out of the blue."

Luis Garcia's soccer team set up an online fundraiser to help him and his family.

> Related: Parents were notified more than an hour after shooting outside East High School

"I’m scared to death," said Tonja Matthews, mom of a Denver East senior. "In the last year, year and a half, the violence has upticked. I don’t know what to blame for that."

In September, a freshman from the school was shot in the face just a block from campus. 

Data shows rising teen violence is not a problem facing only Denver East.

Last year saw a 15.4% increase in the filings of juvenile charges across Colorado, according to a newly-released annual report from the state's Division of Youth Services. The number of young people incarcerated for violent crimes increased too, it says. 

"It's awful," said Joel Hodge, the co-founder of the Struggle of Love Foundation, which aims to prevent violence among at-risk youth in Denver. "It leaves you at a loss for words."

In his 23 years building his organization, Hodge said the recent violence is worse than he remembers. He said Struggle of Love and similar organizations remain over capacity with the number of kids they're trying to help. 

But he still believes in the importance of the work, "because they're saving more than they're losing."

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