DENVER -- Denver police have been investigating a string of shootings involving juveniles, including multiple fatal cases, since early August.
A juvenile was shot in Denver early Sunday morning — the fourth young person shot or killed in the city since Aug. 9. Police said in a tweet that the victim was shot in the leg and was transported to the hospital.
ALERT: #Denver Officers are investigating a shooting that occurred near the 4600 Block of Washington St. One Juv Victim was shot in the leg and is being transported to the hospital. The investigation continues. pic.twitter.com/4xeTPbKTzD— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) September 22, 2019
On Saturday morning, a juvenile was shot and killed in Green Valley West Ranch Park. He was later identified as 17-year-old Diego Marquez.
"At 1 a.m., I heard a 'bang,' then quiet, then 'bang, bang, bang,'" one neighbor said.
Another neighbor said he saw police pointing toward the park at 8:30 a.m. and then saw a football coach directing young players away from a nearby field.
The victim was found face down on the grass under a tree near the playground.
On Sept. 18, 14-year-old Treaujalaune Lorens was shot and killed inside a house on the 1700 block of S. Monaco Parkway.
The victim's sister, Tyquejanna, said the violence was "over a pair of shoes."
Police have arrested a juvenile suspect in connection with that shooting.
And on Aug. 9, 14-yearold Aiden Lawrence was shot and killed near 54th and Xenia in the Stapleton Northfield neighborhood.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case.
"It breaks my heart to see so many of these young kids who are falling ill to this type of violence," said Rev. Leon Kelly of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives.
He has been working for three decades to steer young people away from violence. When he first began working as an interventionist, the average age on his death list was between 17 and 24, he said.
"Now, we look at these kids who are dying, and they're as young as 12, 13, 14 years of age," he said.
Kelly said he doesn't know if any of the shootings have been linked to gang activity.
He said there is no justification for the shootings.
"But in the minds of these youngsters, they feel this is what they got to do," he said. "They act first and think about it later."
He said many moms are at their wit's end trying to save their kids.
Kelly added that most of the juveniles he works with are good kids who learn about respect and consequences, but he said there are a few who always seem to find trouble.
When it comes to violence, he said the current generation is different than the previous one.
"At least the generation before, they had somewhat of a sense of reverence and respect for the hood and their moms and family, but a lot of these kids nowadays have little to no reverence or respect for the hood, let alone the families," Kelly said. "They're going to do what they feel they're big enough to do."