ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — One of the suspects in the Nome Park shooting has been formally charged with attempted murder, and his arrest affidavit reveals more details on what happened at the Aurora park on Nov. 15, 2021, when six students were shot during the lunch hour.
Daniel Ruelas, 16, faces 23 charges, including 16 counts of attempted first-degree murder to the shooting, which happened about a block away from Central High School. He is being charged as an adult. He also faces three counts of first-degree assault, one count of possession of a handgun by a juvenile, and sentence enhancers.
In total, four teens have been arrested in connection to this shooting: Another 16-year-old and two 15-year-olds were also arrested.
A 14-year-old male, 15-year-old female, 16-year-old male, 16-year-old female, 17-year-old male, and 18-year-old male were injured in the shooting. All of them survived.
According to an arrest affidavit for Ruelas, at 12:44 p.m. that day, Aurora police and school resource officers (SROs) from Central High School responded to the park, located along the 1200 block of N. Nome Street, for a report of a shooting. When the SROs arrived, they found three students with gunshot wounds near 1173 N. Nome Street. One was not seriously injured but the other two had serious injuries, according to the affidavit. The students were transported to a hospital.
Police then found a fourth student who had been struck by the gunfire. He had a severe gunshot wound to his leg and was transported to a hospital. Police learned that the student could possibly lose his leg due to the injury, according to the affidavit.
Officers learned that a fifth injured student ran from the park to the high school and then transported himself to a hospital. He had a gunshot wound on his left shoulder, according to the affidavit.
A sixth injured student also transported himself to a hospital. The student has a gunshot wound to his lower left leg. He told police the shooters were in a black Chrysler 300 and black Chevy Tahoe. He said he had been at the park to watch a fight between two people who had also fought the prior week. He said he was at the park with friends waiting for one of the expected fighters to arrive when the shooting happened. He provided a possible suspect name to police.
Investigators found 26 fired casings at the park, which included 21 9mm casings and five rifle casings. Police also found a "300" emblem near the casings and determined it was similar to one found on the rear trunk lid of a Chrysler 300, according to the affidavit.
Aurora officers and detectives spoke with several witnesses who described when the suspects pulled up near the park and started shooting.
Many of them said a black sedan drove along Nome Park with its windows down and then occupants opened fire on students sitting around. The witnesses said there were multiple people in the suspect car and they were wearing masks.
One of the female students who was shot said she thought the shooting may have happened after a fight between some students a week prior, according to the affidavit. She provided a name for a possible suspect.
Another witness said he heard gunfire in the park and heard a car speed northbound on N. Nome Street and then east on E. 13th Avenue. He then heard gunshots from E. 13th Avenue and the park, and heard bullets over his head. When the gunfire stopped, he said he heard the students screaming for help, so we went over to render First Aid. He told police he did not see any guns at the park, according to the affidavit.
One student who had been at the park told police "she had heard earlier in the day that someone was going to be shooting today," according to the affidavit.
A witness near a construction site told police he did not see the shooting, but heard more than 15 gunshots and then saw a Chrysler 300 speeding east on E. 13th Avenue. He said two or three Hispanic males were in the car. Another witness said she heard the gunshots and saw a male in a black sweatshirt shooting east toward the tables at the park, according to the affidavit.
Two witnesses told police they saw a black sedan drive past them with their passenger-side windows down. They said they saw two to four Hispanic males in the car. They watched as one of them held a long gun partially out of the window. The male next to him held a handgun. The witnesses said they started shooting in the park. They told police "that the males in the car looked directly at them and were flashing the guns out the window," according to the affidavit.
Police spoke with several other students who were at the park at the time. One noted a black vehicle in the area during the shooting, and another described the suspect vehicle as a black four-door sedan. Another student told police he saw a gold-colored minivan parked and 10 to 15 juveniles in and near the car. He said he saw a black four-door Cadillac drive by with its windows open, and then he heard gunshots coming from the car. The student said the juveniles around the minivan ran away from the vehicle.
A teacher at the school provided police with a written statement from a student, where the student described seeing two cars circling the park: "Every time they'd drive past I'd see everyone at the park get scared and ready to run. One of the cars was a Chrysler, not a newer one, and black. And black Chevy trucks. The black Chevy had a great amount of people in it dressed in all black and black masks..." the statement read, in part.
Aurora police were able to obtain surveillance footage from the high school and saw a black vehicle, which looked like a Chrysler 300, leaving the scene. The driver was headed toward Nome Park.
Police determined that the two suspect vehicles were likely a black Chevy Tahoe and black Chrysler 300. Police had the license plate for the Tahoe, but not the Chrysler. A BOLO was issued for both vehicles.
A witness talked with police the day after the shooting — Nov. 16, 2021 — and said she had seen the SUV that matched the BOLO at the park the previous day. She said it sounded like the gunfire was coming from that vehicle. She provided a possible suspect name to police, according to the affidavit.
Aurora detectives interviewed a Central High School student at the school, along with his mother, and the student said he was a passenger in the black Chevy Tahoe. However, his mother did not let him say anything else and the interview ended, according to the affidavit.
Later, police received a call from a person who said they owned the Tahoe that was under a BOLO, but they were not involved in the shooting. During an interview with police, the caller and other members of the family said a younger brother, who attends Central High School, drives the vehicle. They gave police a location for the car. The interviewing officer asked if they could speak with the student, and the family agreed to allow it. The student told police he drove the Tahoe to Central High School and left around lunchtime with friends in his car. He said their plan was to go to a friend's home for lunch, but they heard about a fight at Nome Park and decided to drive around to see if they could watch it.
"He said they drove around the park and happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when gunfire broke out," the affidavit reads.
A family member then asked to end the interview, but said the family would cooperate and give police keys to the Tahoe once they had a search warrant. This was granted later that evening, according to the affidavit.
The detective searched the car and found it had been completely cleaned out and washed.
On Nov. 17, 2021, a Central High School SRO told police the name of a student who was possibly the driver of the Chrysler 300. This helped police identify the owner of the car.
A license plate reader captured the vehicle on camera on Nov. 22 in Aurora and police responded to the area, where they found the car parked and empty. Police saw one bullet hole in the rear trunk lid on the passenger side. Just below it was the imprint of the "300" emblem, which was missing from the car. The size of the emblem appeared to match the one found at the scene of the shooting, according to the affidavit.
That same day, Nov. 22, police drove to the address affiliated with the car.
At the home, a woman told police she had sold the car a year ago to her friend and thought he had moved to Mexico. Police told the woman they didn't believe the story, as the car was still registered to her and in Aurora. Police asked if they could speak to her son about the shooting at Nome Park, and she allowed the interview, according to the affidavit.
In the discussion with police, the student said he had never been inside the car and that his mother had sold it the previous year. He said he had not gone to school on Nov. 15 and did not have any information about the shooting, though he added his friends were at the park in a black Tahoe.
The student agreed to a buccal swab and police then said they had found the Chrysler 300 and would likely find DNA inside it. At that point, the student changed his story and said he had driven the Chrysler on Nov. 15 with his friends to Nome Park, according to the affidavit.
The student told police other people had been "beefing with him" and his friends and they were going to be involved in a fight. He said he was driving the Chrysler by the park and saw the rival group with handguns near a tan minivan. He said he drove close by and asked if they were going to fight or not. The group started shooting at the Chrysler, so his friend in the backseat opened fire on the other group, he told police. He said they were acting in self-defense, according to the affidavit.
However, according to surveillance video from the park obtained by police, the Chrysler 300 drove multiple laps around the park and on its final lap, individuals were ducking and running from the tan minivan "as if gunfire had erupted upon them first," according to the affidavit. As the Chrysler 300 left the area, "it appeared as though there are shooters in the park returning gunfire," it continues. Police said there were no bullet holes along the side of the Chrysler 300 that would have been facing the group of people at the park — the only bullet hole was in the back of the car. This "suggest(s) the occupants of the Chrysler fired first, then fled, and received gunfire while fleeing, thus the bullet hole in the rear trunk lid," the affidavit reads.
Knowing this information, and after learning the new details from the student during the interview, police arrested him on charges of attempted first-degree murder around 1 p.m. that day.
A few hours later — around 7 p.m. on Nov. 22 — police received a call from a mother who said her son had information to share about the shooting. In an interview at the police station, the student said he was jumped at Nome Park a week before the shooting. He said he had been jumped "unfairly" and wanted a fair rematch on Nov. 15 during the lunch hour, according to the affidavit. He showed police Instagram messages showing the fight's set-up.
That afternoon, he went to the park with friends. One of his friends had called in "additional backup," and that group was standing near a parked tan minivan, he said. The student said he didn't see that anybody had guns. As he waited, he saw the black Tahoe and black Chrysler 300 circling the park. The Tahoe parked and the Chrysler did another lap, he said. He continued texting the student he was supposed to fight, who had not shown up at that point, according to the affidavit.
When the Chrysler was about 35 to 40 feet away, the student said he threw up his hands and said, "Are we going to fight or what?" He said he couldn't see who was in the car and the windows were tinted. Nobody answered, so he turned around to walk back to his friends, according to the affidavit. At this point, his two friends told him the windows rolled down and two people started shooting. The student said he was not struck by the gunfire, but his two friends had been hit. He said the Chrysler then drove northbound on Nome Street and one of the members of his friend's backup group shot at the Chrysler, according to the affidavit.
The following day, Nov. 23, an Aurora detective said a 15-year-old student at Central High School had been arrested the previous June for possession of a handgun by a juvenile at E. 14th Avenue and Oswego Street, which is just a few blocks from the park. Police reached out to the student and his mother to see if they would be willing to interview about the Nome Park shooting, and both agreed, according to the affidavit.
The 15-year-old told police he was sick on Nov. 15 and did not go to school. While running errands, he ran into a friend from school, who told him about the fight at Nome Park. However, he said he decided to not go, and instead went to his grandmother's house for the rest of the afternoon. When police pushed him about not believing his story, he initially denied having any involvement in the shooting before saying he had been lying, according to the affidavit. He admitted he was in the Chrysler 300 on Nov. 15 at the time of the shooting.
In his new story, the 15-year-old told police he was picked up by the driver of the Chrysler. Two other people were inside the vehicle, plus the driver, he said, and he sat in the rear passenger seat. He said he saw a black handgun on the center console. The group discussed the fight at Nome Park and drove to the area. As they did loops around the park, they picked up another person, which the student estimated as being about 15 years old and possibly a Central High School student. This student sat in the middle of the backseat, according to the affidavit.
The 15-year-old told police that during one of the laps around the park, the teen in the middle seat pulled out a small handgun and a female passenger got an AK-47 rifle out of the back of the car. The student said he thought there would be a fist fight at the park and "if it didn't go well, they would have guns to then finish it with," according to the affidavit.
The student said the driver pulled up next to the park, rolled down the passenger side windows and multiple people inside the car started shooting into the park. However, based on the body positionings the student described, police did not believe the arrangement was possible, even after reenacting it in front of the student, according to the affidavit.
The student said he was scared and closed his eyes, so he did not see how many people got shot, but estimated that about 20 people were in the park prior to the shooting.
Police, knowing that separate guns were used near the minivan and then again at the northwest corner of the park as the Chrysler left the scene, asked the student if the same gun was used in both locations — the student had claimed the middle backseat passenger had shot the same gun in both places. The student denied ever shooting a gun, even when police said they had multiple witnesses who said they had seen a Hispanic male pointing a rifle out the rear passenger window, where he was sitting.
The student was arrested on a charge of attempted first-degree murder and was transported to jail.
The day after this interview, on Nov. 24, police executed a search warrant for the Chrysler 300 and found two spent 9mm casings inside the car.
About two weeks later, on Dec. 9, a detective attended a proffer interview with one of the suspects, where he had agreed to provide more information for the investigation. The suspect said he was originally in the black Chevy Tahoe with his friends on Nov. 15 and they were supposed to drive around Nome Park looking for the person his friend was supposed to fight. The suspect said at one point, they crossed paths with his sister, who was driving their mother's Chrysler 300, according to the affidavit.
He said the two cars stopped and swapped a few people, including Daniel Fuelas, who has been formally charged as an adult with more than a dozen counts of attempted first-degree murder. Fuelas, a Central High student, got into the Chrysler, along with others. The interviewing suspect said Fuelas got into the middle of the backseat, according to the affidavit. One of the teens had a gold-colored AK-47 that he said he stole from a home's safe earlier that year, along with Fuelas and another person. Fuelas had a handgun with him as well, the suspect told police.
The suspect said as the car did laps around the park, he thought he saw that the people around the tan minivan were armed. The Chrysler drove up to the group and the suspect said he was going to ask about the fight. But the teens around the minivan began to approach the Chrysler and three people inside the Chrysler, including Fuelas, opened fire on the approaching group, the suspect said. He said he thought his friends started shooting because they feared the other group was going to shoot at them. As they sped away, he told police he thought people in the park were shooting at the Chrysler.
The group drove to Fuelas' apartment, where they cleaned the car. Then, they dumped the car along the 14600 block of E. 2nd Avenue, the suspect told police.
Police spoke with that suspect's sister, who had been originally driving the Chrysler 300 on the day of the shooting. She said she got into the backseat of the car and did not know any of the teens had guns. She also said that three people in the car, including Fuelas, opened fire on the people in the park. After the shooting, she helped dump the car, she told police.
On Dec. 17, two more teens, including Fuelas, were arrested.
Fuelas has a reverse transfer hearing on July 20 at 9 a.m.
The Aurora Police Major Crimes Unit is working to determine if this shooting is connected to a shooting in the parking lot at Hinkley High School, which happened a few days later. Three teens were injured in the shooting, and four teens have been arrested.