Police chief says recent shootings in Aurora are ‘frustrating’

Aurora Police Chief Greg Thomas, left, visited a l National Night Out site on Aurora's West Side Tuesday. | Courtesy of Al Benson
Aurora Police Chief Greg Thomas, left, visited a l National Night Out site on Aurora's West Side Tuesday. | Courtesy of Al Benson

Aurora Police Chief Greg Thomas is “frustrated” with what’s going on in his city.

Gang-related shootings have been on the rise in recent weeks, and police are working diligently to stop the violence, he said.

At seven, the current murder count for 2014 is creeping up toward numbers not reached since the mid-2000s.

The total number of homicides in the last three years combined was only five. Many of those were believed to be domestic situations. This year, the statistics show a different trend.

Aurora’s four most recent homicides have probably been gang-related, Thomas said.

“On the face of it, I think something has gotten into the gangs recently that has lit a fire and caused a problem,” he said. “(Police) are trying to gather information to see what’s going on in order to stop some of the back and forth retaliation.”

That’s not always easy, he said. Witnesses to these deadly and non-fatal shootings are often gang members themselves. They, along with the victims, are often uncooperative, Thomas said. As a result, members of the department’s gang, community policing, investigation and patrol units are tasked with gathering the missing pieces.

The city’s four most recent murders have gone unsolved, and could have occurred for any number of reasons, Thomas said. It could be that somebody got out of jail and had a self-imposed vendetta against a rival gang member. Or, it could be a battle over territory. It could be that a former leader is free and back in charge, or someone is upset over a girl, Thomas said.

Based on evidence gathered in the most recent shootings, Thomas said it doesn’t appear that there is a feud going on between two specific gangs.

“We can discuss all kinds of issues and data, but the biggest issue now is what (residents) are feeling,” Thomas said. “They’re wondering if we’re reverting back to years gone by in Aurora, when the murder count was in the teens and 20s (a year). They want to know if they’re safe.”

To know that, Thomas said residents must understand the gang mentality.

“(Gang members) don’t have a lot of regard for life, but for the most part, they aren’t going to attack a resident just because,” he said.

Thomas acknowledged that unintended targets do get hit sometimes, and it’s a good practice to be aware of your surroundings.

“Though we’re having a spike in shootings, it’s safe in Aurora,” Thomas said. “There are strategies in place and things being done.”

His team will work like it always has, keeping in contact with community groups and implementing gang prevention methods.

“I think it’s just sad that we had such success for such a long time, and now this,” Thomas said. “To move back to this many murders is very frustrating.”

Tags:

0 Comments


Advertisement

Modal