AURORA | The annual Sentinel A-Town All-Star Boys and Girls Basketball Games won’t be played Monday night at Overland High School as scheduled after school officials canceled the event, citing a potential risk of violence.
“In collaboration with law enforcement, and out of an abundance of caution, Monday’s A-Town All-Star Games will not be hosted at our facilities,” Cherry Creek Schools said Sunday in a statement to The Sentinel.
Recent events in Aurora and the metro area involving teenagers and shootings has created an uneasy environment locally, according to Cherry Creek Schools officials.
After being made aware of a social media post alluding to the All-Star games, it became apparent to school officials that the event could not be held with the assurance of safety of players and spectators, school officials said.
On Sunday, a spokesperson said there was no specific threat regarding the school nor the A-Town All-Stars annual event. On Monday however, district spokesperson Abbe Smith clarified and said Cherry Creek Schools was alerted to a potential threat on social media.
“We have received information from law enforcement regarding a possible social media threat specifically targeting either the All-Stars game or the venue,” Smith said in the email. “We made the decision not to host the event out of an abundance of caution and after consultation with law enforcement.”
The decision to cancel the game was ultimately made by the district, according to an Aurora Police Department spokesperson.
“Due to recent incidents of youth violence in the metro area, the Aurora Police Department was planning to increase our presence at the A-Town All-Stars Game Monday evening,” Agent Matthew Wells-Longshore said in a statement. “In our conversations with Cherry Creek School Staff, the Aurora Police Department was confident with the additional security measures and left the final decision to cancel the event in the hands of school officials.”
The police department declined to discuss the nature of the information shared with the district, but all threats made regarding schools are taken seriously and investigated, Wells-Longshore said.
The Sentinel Colorado All-Stars boys and girls basketball games involve include athletes and coaches from the region, but it is not a school-sponsored event.
“We’re deeply disappointed for the athletes, the coaches and the fans who turn out for what is truly an all-star performance by some of the top girls and boys basketball talent in the region,” said Sentinel Editor and Publisher Dave Perry. “But we understand and appreciated a heightened concern for the safety of everyone.”
Cherry Creek officials said that because of a spate of “gang-related violence along the Front Range and social media threats” the potential for risk is elevated in the region.
“The safety of our students and staff, as well as our entire community, is always our highest priority,” officials said in the statement. “Anyone with information about potentially dangerous behavior is encouraged to contact police or Safe2Tell.”
Smith said that the cancellation should not make district families feel unsafe to attend or participate in sporting events, and that “this was a concern about a specific event on a specific date and location.”
District officials did not say if the concern was connected to the March 11 shooting death of a 16-year-old Overland High School student in the Heather Ridge neighborhood of Aurora adjacent to the campus.
No new information is available about the case, which is under investigation by Aurora Police, Wells-Longshore said in an email.
Smith said that the district is in contact with multiple law enforcement agencies regarding investigations into gang violence in the metro area.
Individual profiles for all of the 40 boys and girls selections — which include at least one player from each of Aurora’s largest 11 schools (Aurora Central, Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest, Gateway, Grandview, Hinkley, Overland, Rangeview, Regis Jesuit, Smoky Hill and Vista PEAK) — are available at ATownAllStars.com.
The annual event returned in 2021 after missing 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s game may be rescheduled.
“Cherry Creek Schools would be willing to host this event or a similar event at a later date and we have reached out to The Sentinel to begin those conversations,” Smith said.
Perry said Sentinel Sports Editor Courtney Oakes, students and coaches from across the region will assess the possibility of a new date for the event.
Looks like the “tail has just wagged the dog”.
By cancelling events that may have teenagers involved doesn’t make me feel any safer as being a citizen of Aurora. But, it does show that others in power know that there is a major safety problem.
When and how will this safety issue, in Aurora, be solved? Doesn’t seem that canceling events is any solution that I see at this time.
“An abundance of caution” is sometimes “overreaction,” as we have seen in recent years and especially with regards to the pandemic. I find it hard to believe that an event this small could not be held securely, but will have to accept that the current people in charge could not do so.
One logical take-away from this is that authorities are hoping that teens exert some peer pressure to reduce gun violence so that they can go back to playing basketball.
Maybe. But as with so many failed, but resurrected programs (data for GRIP, please), it’s mostly fingers crossed and let’s hope it goes away.