Two East High School administrators were injured in a shooting reported at Denver's East High School on the morning of Wednesday, March 22, 2023.
The suspect, a 17-year-old student, fled the scene. His body was later found outside of Bailey.
The incident resulted in anger among parents and educators, and soul-searching among administrators and DPS officials.
Here's our coverage of the shooting, what happened after and what we know about the shooter.
The daily searches of an East High School student who shot two administrators inside the school this week were prompted by a report, just last week, that he had been spotted with a gun.
But because authorities couldn’t prove that he brought the gun to school, and because his father declined to allow a search of their home, the student was allowed to continue going to classes as long as he submitted to a daily pat down by administrators to ensure he didn’t have a firearm.
For several days, the searches were inconsequential and drama-free. But on Wednesday, two administrators found a gun and the student, 17-year-old Austin Lyle, opened fire before running. The administrators were wounded by gunfire, but both are expected to recover.
Denver Public Schools canceled classes throughout the district on Friday, freeing up thousands of students, teachers and faculty to march on the Capitol. They rallied on the statehouse steps, chanting and cheering in the morning’s cold.
“Do something. Protect us. Say something. Help us,” North High School sophomore Angeli Cazares shouted to the crowd. “People I know didn’t make it past middle school due to guns. People I love didn’t get to go to prom, and people I see every day never made it home. I’m tired of this being normal. I’m so sick of people in power staying silent. You can do more.”
This was the third such protest in as many weeks. The first came on March 3, after the shooting and death of Luis Garcia near East High’s campus, when students walked out of class and flooded the Capitol Building. Protests on Thursday and Friday came after another shooting at East on Wednesday, when a student shot two administrators and later took his own life. The two administrators are recovering.
In 2019, Denver Public Schools safety officials handcuffed a seven-year-old at a Green Valley Ranch elementary school. Police pointed a gun at a teacher during a search at Rise Up Community School in 2018, prompting students to stop attending class as they didn’t feel safe.
Tools like metal detectors gave officers the chance to search a student’s belongings and catch them for small infractions that sometimes led to arrests or worse.
Black and Latino children were statistically the most likely to face consequences, ranging from tickets to arrests, and so justice-minded parents and advocates successfully pushed to remove those officers from schools in 2020, arguing that police were not actually keeping kids safe in the classroom.
But after Wednesday, when a 17-year-old East High school student, who had a previous weapons charge and had been expelled from Cherry Creek’s Overland High, shot two deans at East High School and later killed himself, parents, students and educators are asking how officials can keep them safe while at school.
Educators at Denver’s East High School were aware that a troubled 17-year-old was on probation from an Aurora weapons criminal charge, so were careful to check him each day for firearms.
But the specialized security plan that allowed Austin Lyle to attend classes at East, despite having been expelled from Cherry Creek’s Overland High, unraveled on Wednesday when the administrator who regularly searched him was unavailable.
“There was a common administrator who normally would engage with the student upon arrival,” explained Denver Public Schools Superintendent Alex Marrero. “That administrator was not available.”
A sea of students, parents and teachers wearing red — the color of East High School — swept through the Colorado State Capitol building Thursday to demand action on gun violence in schools. The demonstration follows a shooting at East High that left two administrators badly injured Wednesday morning.
It was the second time this month students flocked to the Capitol in response to gun violence connected to East High. In early March, students from various Denver high schools walked out of class and marched to the Capitol after 16-year-old Luis Garcia died from a gunshot-related injury sustained near campus.
Thursday’s protestors were well prepared. Several brought crumpled up cardboard signs that already saw use in the earlier protest. Many, like East High freshman Kyle Nguyen, went straight to the entrance of both the House and Senate chambers, waiting for lawmakers to exit.
The Park County Coroner’s Office has confirmed that a body near the vehicle of the suspect in the East High shooting is the alleged gunman. Its statement did not state how the 17-year-old died.
Prior to the shooting, the student was being searched by administrators as part of a school safety plan. They found a handgun during the search, and as it was being confiscated, shots were fired.
Denver police executed a search warrant at the suspect’s home Wednesday afternoon but did not find him there. Investigators later located his vehicle in Park County, southwest of Denver, around 6 p.m.
Bundled in hoodies, students walked past frozen, wilted flowers in cellophane wrappers on top of the big “E” that sits in front of East High School on Tuesday morning.
The flowers had been put there over the past few weeks to honor Luis Garcia, a 16-year-old student who was shot outside the school and later died.
As students showed their badges to get into the school, they looked up and saw a poster board sign in honor of Garcia.
Less than two hours later, another shooting took place.
Students plan to protest Thursday after two East High School administrators were injured in a shooting reported at the school Wednesday morning.
The two victims were identified as Eric Sinclair, a dean of culture, and Jerald Mason, coordinator in restorative practice, according to a Denver Health spokesperson. Sinclair was in critical condition and underwent surgery, which stabilized him; Mason was released after being treated for his injuries.
The suspected shooter fled the school. His car was later found on CR 68 in Park County and a shelter-in-place order was issued at 5 p.m.
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