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New Aurora community group to address crime issues

There have been three different shootings in the last few weeks where multiple victims were teenagers.

AURORA, Colo. — A new community group in Aurora is joining the effort to try and find solutions to the city's latest string of shootings.

Over the last few weeks, there have been three different shootings where multiple victims were teenagers. Two of those shootings were in Ward 1, where Chris Belila lives. 

"There's a variety of experiences we need to understand in terms of crime, what is going on, what isn't being done, so then we can come back and say 'OK, what are the solutions?'" Belila, the founder of a new group called We are A-Town, said. 

Belila started We are A-Town in February. It was a community clean-up group that met every few weeks to pick up the trash in the area. With the increase in crime, Belila felt the group needed to shift its focus. 

We are A-Town planned to host a community meeting on Saturday to address the crime issues the area has seen. That meeting has now been canceled, Belila said, because community interest has made the expected attendance too large for the venue. 

Belila said he is working to reschedule the event, and hopes to get all involved.

"We as individuals have to take ownership of it. Just as we elect officials to make policies, we have to show that we give a damn enough to push for those changes and hold them accountable," he said. 

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Councilwoman Crystal Murillo, who represents Ward 1, told 9NEWS she and other community leaders have been working nonstop to try and put solutions in place. The reality is, they take time.

"It takes years to set some of these things up," Murillo said via Zoom. "We know we don't have time, so what we're trying to do is work with these organizations so that we're nimble." 

Murillo said they are looking to add additional safe space for teens and provide more mental health counselors of color to give kids someone to talk to. 

Murillo said she knows it takes a village to create change. Belila said he hopes to be a part of that. 

"Whatever it takes," Belila said. "Just come up with some plans and try it."

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