AURORA | Three 16-year-old boys have been charged with attempted murder in a Nov. 19 Hinkley High School parking lot shooting that left three teenage students wounded, setting off a storm of investigation and worry across the region.
Police said their investigation revealed the shooting was gang-related after boys accused of shooting said they were armed at the school in fear they would be jumped during a fight with rival gang members.
Four other boys were named in arrest affidavits but have not been charged with crimes, even though they, too, were implicated in the court documents. Police declined to answer questions about the investigation, referring queries to the district attorney’s office.
Facing four counts of attempted first-degree murder and multiple other charges are Larry Renee Jefferson, Dalen Lenale Brewer and Diego Flores. Another boy, wounded while riding inside the truck, was not charged.
While the three teenagers are being tried as juveniles, their names were released because of their ages, the gravity of the crimes and because the charges were direct-filed in district court, according to 18th Judicial Court District officials.
The boys told police they armed themselves in preparation for a fight with “Boner Boys” gang members.
One boy went to Hinkley in advance of the shooting, during lunch, to scout out members of the rival gang, saying that those gang members had shot up the house of others “several times in the past,” police said in an affidavit.
He said those gang members were there and a fight was imminent. He asked others to bring guns as back-up, in case any of the rival gang members at Hinkley were armed.
When asked by police why the need for guns, the boy said, “it’s the way it is in this town,” according to the affidavit.
The boys describe a chaotic event where gunfire erupted quickly and three of the boys fired from the truck window as they sped away.
None of the two other shooting victims told police they felt like they were targeted during the shooting, according to police arrest affidavits.
One student told police she was with her cousin inside a car in the parking lot and saw a pickup truck on the other side of the lot, near dumpsters. She said she heard gunfire, and then the driver of the truck came toward their car and drove past. As the truck drove toward them, she heard more shooting, then she realized she’d been shot in the backside and injured, according to the affidavit. Her cousin immediately drove her to a nearby hospital.
A boy wounded during the shooting said he had just returned to school after going for lunch nearby. He was with a friend inside his car with other students when they heard yelling. Thinking there was a fight about to erupt, he got out of the car and heard yelling, then shooting as students scattered. He began running for the front door of the school when he was shot in the back.
Numerous students described the truck and passengers to police. One student said he saw a black male get out of the truck and say, “You all are gonna get it,” according to the police statement.
Another student told police they saw a “Hispanic male with long hair on top with a pistol in his hand, firing it out of the driver’s side window of the truck,” according to the affidavit.
Aurora Public School school security officers Ronald Banks and Darius Walls were in a school district vehicle by the front of the school when they heard gunfire.
“(Banks) said he exited the passenger side door and took cover behind the front of their vehicle,” according to the affidavit.
He was unarmed at the time.
“(Banks) said he was yelling at the school children to get inside and to get down so they would not get shot.”
Turning toward the truck, Banks said he saw the muzzle of a gun coming out of the rear passenger window of the truck. He saw Walls then fire his gun at the truck as it moved past, exchanging gunfire. Neither officer was hit.
It’s unclear whether that’s how one of the boys inside the truck was injured by a bullet.
The boys sped away and split up.
Police were quick to identify them and spent the next few days tracking down everyone in the truck, saying they had sorted out who fired weapons during the melee.
Charges filed against each of the three boys named include:
- 4 counts of attempted first-degree murder
- 1 count of first-degree assault
- 1 count of second-degree assault
- 1 count of possession of a weapon on school grounds
- 2 crime-of-violence sentence enhancers
Jefferson was also charged with one count of using a prohibited large-capacity magazine during a crime.
Jefferson and Brewer are slated for court appearances next at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 15. Flores is slated for a hearing at 8:30 a.m. on March 7, 2022.
This shooting, and a shooting outside of Aurora Central High School days before, have prompted a community push to analyze and address growing gun violence, especially among teenagers and young adults.
APS district officials this week have closed school campuses during lunch and are providing additional security at the time.