AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — There’s a reward of up to $10,000 to help find the suspects in a Wednesday night police shootout, and they’re asking neighbors to check their property and home surveillance videos for any evidence.
“This person tried to murder Aurora police officers who were out there protect all of us, and we want ’em,” interim Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
Oates asked neighbors near the incident, especially those who live in the area of 10th Avenue and Lima Street, south and west of Central High School, for help finding evidence. He asked people to review their doorbell or other home surveillance cameras, check their properties for anything out of the ordinary and report it to police.
Male with leg injury wanted; teen found in field
Oates said all they know about a wanted suspect is that he’s male and had an injury to one of his legs, “most likely the right,” based on blood and other evidence. He also wore a hooded sweatshirt.
Police are holding another teenage boy who they found in a field near Central High School and the King Soopers parking lot where the shootout began. Officers found him after 10 p.m. and said the 16-year-old was not wearing clothes that fit the night’s cold temperature. He was also wearing a nonfunctioning ankle monitor.
That teen was held on multiple warrants for failure to appear on counts of motor vehicle theft and weapon possession, Oates said. He had not been charged in the shootout as of Thursday afternoon.
Aurora DART team involved in shootout
Oates said police believe there were two or more people in a stolen white Kia Optima sedan when officers in an unmarked car began to follow them around 9:45 p.m. Oates said the officers were part of Aurora’s Direct Action Response Team, or DART, a special team deployed since July to target violent crime.
Oates said the suspects opened fire on two officers in an unmarked car. Another two police cars, with a total of five officers, “engaged in a gun battle with the occupants of the Kia,” Oates said.
An officer in a fourth vehicle tried to block the Kia and was also fired upon.
He said “there were an awful lot of rounds fired” between officers and the suspects in the parking lot at Sixth Avenue and Peoria Street, with some possibly hitting the nearby shopping center.
The suspects’ vehicle was abandoned at 10th Avenue and Lima Street, where the chief said two guns were found and where at least one person fled the scene.
Oates said he was thankful officers were not hurt in the gun battle.
“I will tell you this: We are also very angry about what happened last night when people tried to murder our police officers,” he said.
What is the DART team?
Oates said the six officers in the incident, all of them on the DART team, have been placed on administrative leave as required by policy. The 18th Judicial District’s Critical Incident Response Team is investigating.
Oates expressed confidence in the officers involved.
“Everything I know about this event, at this time, is that our officers acted courageously in the face of a deadly threat,” Oates said.
The interim chief said the DART, active since July, has a focus on auto theft. He stressed that whether robberies, shootings or extreme violence, “everything seems to be starting with a stolen car.”
Asked whether such a focus could lead to more shootings with police, Oates said he’s not sure whether, statistically, that is so.
“If you go after bad guys that are committing real violence with guns, you can come to your own conclusions as to whether or not that’s gonna lead to more officer-involved shootings,” Oates said. “Certainly led to that last night.”