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posted: 1/15/2013 6:04 PM

Aurora pursuing leads in shotgun shooting

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Aurora police say they have several leads in a Jan. 9 shooting in which six people between the ages of 11 and 19 were hit with shotgun pellets.

But some critics are questioning why information about the case didn't become public until five days later.

Police said the shooting occurred about 11:40 p.m. at a home on the 600 block of North Avenue on Aurora's near East side. The gunman fired a shotgun through the back of the house and the pellets hit six young people inside, seriously injuring a 13-year-old boy and causing minor injuries to the five others.

"We have several leads as far as offenders that may or may not be involved," police spokesman Dan Ferrelli said Tuesday. "We have not ruled out some type of gang motivation."

The 13-year-old who was seriously injured has been released from a hospital, police said. Others who suffered minor injuries include three boys -- ages 11, 16 and 17 -- and a 15-year-old girl. A 19-year-old woman who was shot refused medical treatment and later was arrested on a warrant for theft out of Kendall County, Ferrelli said.

The victims are members of two families, he said.

The first news reports of the shooting did not emerge until Jan. 14.

"We don't do news releases on all of our shootings. We do news releases on the most serious ones and the ones (in which) we're looking for assistance," Ferrelli said. "Frequently, releasing information too fast can actually hinder an investigation. That's another thing that goes into the timing of news releases."

Ferrelli said police release information in accordance with all state statutes and maintain a press board where members of the media can review arrests, traffic reports and information about other criminal occurrences, including shootings.

The Jan. 9 shooting is at least the second such case in Aurora this year. In a separate case, three men were shot Jan. 5 in a dispute that broke out during a custody exchange. Ferrelli did not have a total count of people who have been shot in 2013.

The violence comes as the city reflects on 2012, its first year without a murder since the 1940s.

Mayor Tom Weisner has proposed giving a $500 bonus to each of the police department's 289 sworn officers for their efforts that helped lead to a year without murders. The bonus proposal is likely to come before the city council at 6 p.m. Jan. 22.

Some online critics are suggesting the police department purposely withheld information on the Jan. 9 shooting because officials were still discussing the murder-free year in the media.

Ferrelli said political considerations did "not at all" play a role in the police decision not to send a news release about the shooting. He said information was not made readily available because most of the injuries were minor and because police already have leads to pursue

Anyone with information is asked to call investigators at (630) 256-5500 or place an anonymous call to Aurora Area Crime Stoppers to qualify for a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

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