Judge sentences Aurora gang member to 35 years in prison for 2017 drive-by shooting, 2018 armed robbery


AURORA | A member of the Park Hill Bloods street gang has been sentenced to more than three decades in prison after he pleaded guilty to attempting to murder a rival gang member in a 2017 drive-by shooting and robbing an Aurora auto parts store last year, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Joshua Cunningham

An Arapahoe County District Court judge sentenced Joshua Cunningham, 20, to 35 years in prison on May 6 shortly after Cunningham pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery with a firearm in two separate cases, according to the local DA’s office. 

Several other charges filed against Cunningham were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Prosecutors said Cunningham, who was an Aurora resident at the time of his arrest, fired at a person believed to be a rival gang member in a drive-by shooting on Dec. 8, 2017 along East 14th Avenue in Aurora. 

“Gang-related drive-by shootings are not limited to L.A.-based 1980s movies,” George Brauchler, district attorney for the 18th judicial district, said in a statement. “They are here, and as long as there are those who engage in this extreme and lethal behavior, we will work to protect our community by removing them from it.”

About two months later, Cunningham robbed the O’Reilly Auto Parts store on South Havana Street at gunpoint and demanded a clerk give him all the money in the cash register.

Officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the local branch of the FBI, and the Aurora Police Department collaborated to identify and arrest Cunningham and 14 other people believed to be involved in the drive-by shooting, the robbery and other crimes in July 2018, according to local prosecutors. 

Authorities used ballistic evidence and cell-phone records to apprehend Cunningham and the other suspects. 

Brauchler intimated the arrests and corresponding investigation suggest crime is rising across the metroplex.

“It takes the combined efforts of our fantastic law enforcement partners at Aurora PD, FBI, and ATF to help protect us from the seeming surge in violent crime being perpetrated by younger members of our community,” Brauchler said in a statement.

Cunningham will be eligible for parole on Sept. 16, 2035, according to state Department of Corrections records.