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Sunday September 22nd, 2019 2:31PM

Malone coaches Game 5 with heavy heart after school shooting

By The Associated Press
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DENVER (AP) — Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone was shaken Tuesday by the school shooting that occurred in his neighborhood a few hours before his team's playoff game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

"That's a community I live in. I know thoughts and prayers are never enough, but ... from myself, our team, our organization, our thoughts and prayers with all those families, students, school administrators, everybody that was there today," Malone said in a heartfelt pregame news conference . "It's a tragedy."

Sheriff's officials said an 18-year-old male student was killed and several students were wounded in the shooting at a STEM School Highlands Ranch, which is about 15 miles south of the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets play.

Authorities have taken two students into custody after the shooting in the affluent community of Highlands Ranch near where two students shot and killed 13 people at Columbine High School 20 years ago.

Malone said Tuesday's shooting happened minutes from his house in the Highlands Ranch community.

"It's not just Highlands Ranch. It's not just Colorado. This is an epidemic. It continues to happen," Malone said. "That's the frustrating thing. How do you stop it? Again, gun control, laws, whatever it might be — I'm not a politician; I don't want to sit up here on a soap box. I just want everybody back in Highlands Ranch to know we're with you. That's really important for them to know."

Malone said his wife contacted him Tuesday afternoon to tell him about the shooting. The couple has two daughters who attend school nearby.

"The thing that makes you angry is that she's telling me how scared my daughters are in their schools, texting her," Malone said. "They didn't know what's going on. They just saw lockout. Where is this shooter? Is it at our school? Some other school?

"When kids go to school, they should be going to school to learn, have fun, be with their friends, not be worried about an active shooter."

Malone was leery of addressing the tragedy with his team before Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, saying it's a "conversation and a subject maybe on an off day."

"These are scary times for everybody and you have to find a way to be mentally tough and get through it," Malone said. "It's just frustrating. It makes you angry. It hits home. That's how I felt today."

Weighing on him was how to address the shooting with his children.

"Great question," Malone said. "I'm texting my daughter, telling her she's going to be OK. I don't even know if she will be OK. This is every parent's worst nightmare. When you see your kids go to school in the morning, it's, 'Have a great day' and (you) assume everything is going to be all right."

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AP Sports Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.

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