Kiara Padilla huddled with classmates beneath tables in her sixth-period class at Aurora Central High School, listening to the sound of swarming sirens and the beat of helicopter blades outside.
It wasn’t until nearly an hour later that Padilla learned that six fellow students had been shot at a park across the street from her high school. She made it home safe, but the shooting so near her school intensified a feeling that there is no place safe from gun violence, she said.
“I feel for some of us it’s just really stressful,” the 16-year-old said. “For me, I’m not really scared but I’m also not calm.”
The Nov. 15 shooting outside Aurora Central was the first of three mass shootings that injured 13 teenagers in Colorado’s third-largest city in less than two weeks. The shootings ignited peace rallies, emergency community meetings, gun buyback programs and increased school security across Aurora.
The rash of mass violence in November and a year-over-year increase in the number of teens killed and injured in Aurora shootings highlight what some city officials and community leaders described as a lack of attention by the city to the issue of youth violence until last year.