Murders, Shootings in Aurora Explodes: Details About 28 Violent Incidents

Booking photos for (from left) Emily Strunk, Dontavious Hetzel and Kevin Wertin.
Booking photos for (from left) Emily Strunk, Dontavious Hetzel and Kevin Wertin. Aurora Police Department
The level of violent crime this year in Denver has gotten plenty of attention, but much less notice has been given to what's been happening in Aurora. A fatal drive-by shooting early on September 28 is only the latest example of bloodshed in the sprawling community to the east of the Mile High City.

As documented by the Aurora Police blog, at least 28 homicides, officer-involved shootings or critical incidents involving guns have taken place during the year to date.

According to the crime data page maintained by the Aurora Police Department, which was recently found by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser to have a pattern and practice of racial bias, the number of murders in Aurora hit a peak for the decade last year. Here are the totals:
2020: 39
2019: 28
2018: 18
2017: 30
2016: 22
2015: 24
2014: 11
2013: 23
2012: 29
2011: 12
The officer-involved shootings map created by Denver7 counts four such episodes in Aurora during 2020. But as documented by the APD, there have already been four this year, not counting an incident in which a man was shot with a "less-lethal shotgun."

Continue to see summaries of the aforementioned 28 incidents, listed in reverse chronological order, complete with links to the accompanying APD releases and references to arrests, if any. Also included are booking photos of individuals taken into custody in relation to the offenses.
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Booking photos for (from left) Dakota Chinnock, Demajhea Tuggle and Treyvion Simpson.
Aurora Police Department
28. "One Person Killed After Drive-by Shooting in Hoffman Heights"

At approximately 1:49 a.m. on September 28, Aurora police responded to a report of a shooting at a residence on the 1200 block of North Worchester Street. Officers soon discovered that a 47-year-old woman inside the home had been shot; she later died from her injuries. Investigators believe the rounds were fired from a vehicle that stopped in front of the home.

27. "Shots Fired During Barricaded Armed Party Call"

Around 2:10 p.m. on September 26, Aurora police were called to a home at 2230 North Billings Streets in regard to a shots-fired report. An apartment at that location was hit by several bullets, but no one was home. Nearly three hours later, at 5 p.m., the APD was called about a family disturbance at a nearby abode, at 2250 Billings Street. A 21-year-old man was said to be experiencing a mental health crisis. After the SWAT team arrived, the man barricaded himself inside along with one other person. Then, at 7:55 p.m., the cops forced entry into the home after learning that the suspect was trying to get into the basement, where two people were hiding from him. A SWAT officer fired inside the house, but no one was hit, and the suspect was taken into custody.

26. "Two Killed in Northwest Aurora"

Around 3:40 p.m. on September 25, APD officers found a male suffering from a gunshot wound and another man who appeared to have been stabbed at 1575 North Galena Street. Both men subsequently died; a knife and a handgun were found at the scene

25. "Man Kills Woman in Early Morning Attack"

At 7:58 a.m. on September 5, the APD headed to the 1100 block of South Carson Court after hearing about an injured person. They found a twenty-year-old woman who had died from "apparent physical trauma." Inside was Dakota Chinnock, who was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder.

24. "Suspicious Death Investigation on East Colfax and North Emporia Street"

A woman with serious injures was found in the area of East Colfax and Emporia. She later died of her wounds.

23. "Man Fatally Shot at Bristol Point Shopping Center"

Multiple calls about a shooting on the 800 block of South Buckley Road were received by Aurora 911 around 7:52 p.m. on August 25. At the Bristol Point Shopping Center, officers found an adult male suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

22. "Homicide at Red Sky Condominiums"

At 6:47 p.m. on August 19, callers reported a shooting at 14704 East 2nd Avenue. A man found at that location had been shot; he died after being transported to an area hospital.

21. "Man Surrenders to Aurora Police After Murdering Woman"

On August 6 at around 2:36 p.m., Aurora police officers headed to 13347 East Montview Boulevard after Jesus Mendoz-Prudente called to say he'd killed a woman. The 34-year-old victim was located the next day in the area of Noe Road and Highway 105 in Douglas County. Mendoz-Prudente was booked on suspicion of first-degree murder.

20. "Shooting in Side Creek Neighborhood Leaves Woman Critical and Man Dead"

The time and date: 12:14 p.m. on July 30. The location: the 18500 block of East Kansas Street. The report: a shooting. Officers soon discovered a man who'd died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound and a woman with gunshot wounds who lost her fight for life the next day at a local hospital.

19. "Two Arrested After Shooting Man in Laredo Highline Neighborhood"

At 12:23 a.m. on July 31, Aurora officers were sent to an apartment at 15423 East 13th Avenue, where a woman said she'd shot a male intruder. The woman, Emily Strunk, told investigators that she'd previously had an "intimate relationship" with the person who broke into her home; he's said to have assaulted another occupant, Kevin Lee Wertin, before Strunk shot and critically wounded him. However, both Strunk and Wertin were later arrested and booked on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder.

18. "Officer-Involved Shooting on South Xanadu Way"

A domestic-violence call brought Aurora officers to a home on the 2300 block of South Xanadu Way at 12:30 p.m. on July 20. When they arrived, a male at the address is said to have been armed with a gun, and when he allegedly failed to obey an order to drop the weapon and squeezed off a shot, officers returned fire. The man was seriously wounded but survived.

17. "Female Found Dead With Gunshot Wound"

A 911 caller alerted Aurora police to the body of a woman lying in some grass at 695 Dillion Way; the victim couldn't be revived. Detectives identified Eric Huff as the prime suspect, but they learned that Huff was the subject of a death inquiry by the Denver Police Department. At that point, the case was closed.

16. "Man Killed in Parking Lot Shooting"

The shooting outside a McDonald's located at 2651 Parker Road took place shortly before 6:30 p.m. on June 29, when Aurora police officers arrived. Just over two weeks later, on July 15, Treyvion Simpson was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder.

15. "Officer-Involved Shooting With Hoax Bomb in Summer Valley Neighborhood"

Jeffrey Moralez was said to be in a mental health crisis at 1:16 p.m. on July 12, but he refused any contact or assistance from the Aurora Police Department's crisis response team. Around six hours later, at 7:11 p.m., Moralez prompted another visit; callers said he had a firearm on his hip near 4283 Salida Way and "was being disruptive." No arrest was made at that time, but at 8:41 p.m., officers returned, subsequently joined by the SWAT team. A standoff ensued and lasted several hours, complete with shots fired by Moralez and word of a possible bomb. He surrendered at 4:40 a.m. on July 13 and admitted that the bomb was bogus.
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Booking photos for (from left) Master Martin, Jesus Mendoz-Prudente and Jerome Johnson.
Aurora Police Department
14. "Officer-Involved Shooting at East Hampden Avenue and South Chambers Road"

A reported domestic-violence episode brought officers to the area of South Memphis Street and East Hampden Avenue at 12:06 a.m. on July 12. Attempts to coordinate a meeting with the alleged victim at a 7-Eleven at 15296 East Hampden Avenue led to a confrontation between the driver of a Ford Taurus and an officer, who fired at the vehicle.

13. "Officer-Involved Shooting at Wolf's Motor Inn"

At 7:15 p.m. on July 6, the Aurora SWAT team was dispatched to Wolf's Motor Inn, 15691 East Colfax, after receiving information that "an armed and dangerous fugitive wanted for homicide" was staying there. A standoff ensued. Then, at around 10:04 p.m., officers heard gunshots coming from the suspect's room and burst inside. More shots were fired and the suspect was struck. The injuries suffered by the suspect weren't life-threatening, and neither were more minor wounds experienced by a couple of the SWAT officers.

12. "Critical Incident Investigation After Man Injured"

A domestic-violence call to the InTown Suites at 14090 East Evans Avenue on June 28 devolved into a face-off between the male suspect, who was believed to have injured a woman, and officers, who tased him and then shot him with two rounds from a "less-lethal shotgun." One round penetrated the man's abdomen, but he lived.

11. "Juneteenth Celebration in Parking Lot Leaves One Dead, Four Injured"

Aurora's Public Safety Dispatch Center counted at least fifty calls for assistance after shots rang out in a shopping mall parking lot at 12455 East Mississippi Avenue around 4:19 a.m. on June 20. One man died, while three adult males and an adult female self-transported to area hospitals.

10. "Double Shooting/Homicide in the Meadow Hills Neighborhood"

A shooting at around 10:20 p.m. on June 11 near South Fraser Street and South Fraser Court resulted in the death of an adult man and the serious wounding of a seventeen-year-old male.

9. "Man Dies After Parking Lot Fight"

A fight outside the Flying J, at 16751 East 32nd Avenue, around 5:54 p.m. on May 17 went terribly wrong after one of the combatants, 72-year-old Kevin Stymiest, fell backward and hit his head in the parking lot. He died three days later, on May 20. The other man in the fight wasn't immediately arrested and was said to have been cooperating with investigators.

8. "Suspicious Death Now Ruled Homicide"

A shooting at around 9 a.m. on May 26 at 1305 South Elkart Way resulted in the death of an adult male. A suspect, Demajhea Tuggle, was soon accused of first-degree murder.

7. "Man Killed in Shooting on Chambers Road"

At 7:15 p.m. on April 4, a shooting took place near East 35th Avenue and Helena Street. An adult male was declared brain dead three days later, on April 7. Investigators later determined that the incident involved a confrontation at a Maverik Gas Station at North Chambers Road and East 38th Avenue.

6. "Shooting at Hotel Leaves One Dead"

An ugly scene took place at the Hometowne Suites at 3705 North Chambers Road at 5:15 a.m. on March 22. An adult male was pronounced dead at the scene and a juvenile male located nearby was questioned but not immediately arrested.

5. "Homicide Investigation Regarding Welfare Check Call"

Officers from Aurora's District 1 showed up at Front Range Tires, 3005 South Peoria Street, at 10 a.m. to discover Vincent Brown, a deceased adult male, next to the building. He'd been shot several times.

4. "Man Shot and Killed in Condo Parking Lot"

At 4:25 p.m. on March 3, calls went out to the Aurora Police about a shooting at the Telegraph Hills II Condos on the 12000 block of East Harvard Avenue. An adult male in the parking lot succumbed to a gunshot wound after being taken to a local hospital.

3. "Suspicious Death Now Homicide on East Walsh Way"

Aurora Fire Rescue personnel asked the Aurora Police Department for assistance related to a medical call at 17221 East Walsh Way at 9:40 a.m. on February 22. An adult male was inside the residence; he died at the scene of a gunshot wound.

2. "Man Shot Dead in North Aurora"

Jerome Deshun Johnson was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder on February 12 over a shooting at the southeast corner of North Beeler Street and East Colfax Avenue at 12:34 p.m. on January 22 that left an adult male dead. East Colfax and North Beeler Street was also the setting for a fatal shooting on July 5, 2020. On February 2, 2021, Dontavious Hetzel was arrested for allegedly being an accessory to the murder; the previous September, Master Martin had been taken into custody on a first-degree murder warrant.

1. "One Man Dead in Del Mar Parkway Neighborhood Shooting"

At 9:34 p.m. on January 25, Aurora police learned about the shooting of a man on the 1300 block of Alton Street. He died of his injuries.

Anyone with information about any of these crimes can contact Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867).
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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