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Family identifies teenager killed at Juneteenth celebration in Aurora – The Denver Post
June 23, 2020
The 17-year-old boy killed during a Juneteenth celebration in Aurora was identified by his family Monday as Xaviyar Lawrence Sturges.
The teenager was shot to death in Rocky Ridge Park on East Mississippi Avenue on Friday during a large informal Juneteenth gathering, said his uncle, Taeshaud Jackson.
A rising junior at Smoky Hill High School who loved to play video games, wrestle and spend time with his family, Xaviyar would eat just about anything, Jackson said. He was smart, outgoing and articulate.
“He had a smile that was just incredible,” Jackson said. “It would brighten up anyone’s room.”
The shooting happened during a large gathering of young people, according to police and at least one video of the shooting that was taken by a bystander and later posted publicly to social media.
That video shows several young men fighting with each other in a grassy area as a larger group of young people mills around, with some in the crowd shouting and screaming, some squaring off and some trying to break up the fighting. At one point in the video, Xaviyar is seen standing beside a group that is fighting, watching.
A few moments later, as two young men square off, gunshots are fired outside the frame of the video, causing panic. The crowd, including the person shooting the video, runs away as several more shots are heard.
“From my perception, if you can see in one of the videos, he was never involved in the fights, he was actually observing and recording during the fights,” Jackson said. “He was always on the outskirts. He was never in the midst of any of the fights between the so-called gang members.”
He said he believes Xaviyar may have been bumped by one of the young men who was fighting, then turned around in a “defensive stance” and was immediately shot.
“This is a kid not knowing how to operate a firearm,” he said of the shooter. “He shot and he didn’t hit his enemy, or the person he was engaging in the fight with, he hit Xaviyar.”
Aurora police had not made any arrests in the case by Monday evening. The department said in a statement hours after the shooting that investigators believed the attack was an “isolated incident between the victim and the suspect(s)” and that there was no ongoing threat to the public.
Police did not respond to additional requests for comment Sunday or Monday. The police department did not answer questions about whether Xaviyar was involved in the fighting or was a bystander in the crowd when he was shot.
Jackson said Xaviyar was not a gang member.
“He didn’t belong to anything or any particular group,” he said. “But sometimes you are guilty by association. You might know someone who knows someone who is engaged in negativity, like gangs or the wrong crowd.”
Xaviyar “had a few run-ins at school,” was bullied and had a poor attendance record, Jackson said. But the teenager also worked two jobs and strove to be successful, his uncle said.
He hopes police find and arrest the killer.
“He took away a great person,” Jackson said, “and an intricate part of this family.”