AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – On Sunday, a church and other faith-based groups held a town hall called “State of Emergency” to address the youth gun violence affecting the city of Aurora and surrounding areas. It was a conversation for leaders and parents to listen to students about their concerns when it comes to gun violence. The town hall comes just days after two shootings happened at different Aurora schools — one near Aurora Central High School on Nov. 15 and the other at Hinkley High School on Friday.
“We all fear for our safety,” said Omar De La Rosa, an 11th grader at Hinkley High School.
De La Rosa was at the school on Friday when gunshots rang out in a parking lot. He believes many of his peers don’t know where to go to access the resources available to address youth violence or they don’t feel comfortable reaching out to leaders in the community.
“I guess what I would want is for these people and these resources to be more involved with students, better advertising,” said De La Rosa. “Like getting the word out. I feel like most students don’t know where to go.”
Nielli Jenkins is a student in Commerce City. She said she’s scared not only for herself, but for her peers and family members.
“I could leave this building right now and something could happen to me on the way home,” Jenkins said.
So what are the solutions to addressing the youth gun violence we’re seeing in Aurora?
“By not closing or turning a blind eye to it,” said Elder Rufus Lewis of Jurisdiction of Colorado Church of God in Christ Headquarters, where the town hall was held.
Sharletta Evans’ son was killed in 1995 in a drive-by shooting in Aurora at the hands of three teenagers. Evans said we need to meet the human needs of these youth such as providing mental health services, and resources for substance abuse, because a lot of the problems youth are facing are systemic.
“The kids needs to be heard, they need someone to talk to that looks like them, they’re dealing with depression and they do not need to be overlooked,” Evans said. “We strategize. We don’t wait for a tragedy to happen, we respond with strategy and that’s where we’re going to begin.”
Both parents and students told CBS4 not only is there a generational disconnect with students when discussing youth violence, but a cultural disconnect as well. Many local organizations are looking at how to revamp their outreach strategies to reach the students who need it most.