Denver Student Accused of Shooting 2 Administrators Found Dead
Shots were fired as the faculty members were patting down the student as part of a school safety plan he was under.
LAST UPDATED 3/24/23
The student accused of shooting two Denver high school administrators was found dead Wednesday night following a 10-hour search.
Police responded to Denver East High School around 9:50 a.m. where they found two adult men suffering from gunshot wounds, reports CNN. Paramedics were already in the building to treat a student for an allergic reaction and were able to immediately administer aid.
The two victims have been identified as Eric Sinclair, a dean of culture, and Jerald Mason, coordinator in restorative practice. Mason was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon and Sinclair remains in serious condition.
The student, identified by police as 17-year-old Austin Lyle, was under a school safety plan that required him to be patted down at the start of each day due to prior behavioral issues. A spokesperson for the Cherry Creek School District said Lyle was expelled from Overland High School last year for “violating school board policy.” Additional sources told ABC News that school leadership described Lyle to police as “potentially violent” and a “threat to the safety of the school” following a series of events during the 2021-2022 school year, including bringing a weapon to school. In a separate incident, law enforcement said Lyle was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon in 2021.
The daily searches at Denver East were conducted in a secluded office at the front of the school away from students. Superintendent Alex Marrero said on the day of the shooting, Sinclair and Mason conducted the search because the administrator who typically does was not available. The two administrators were searching the student Wednesday when “a handgun was retrieved and several shots were fired,” said Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas. The student originally fled the scene and was considered armed and dangerous as the gun used in the shooting had not been recovered. Investigators searched his home for evidence and spoke with individuals who might have known where he went.
Denver police issued a crime alert identifying Lyle and indicating he was associated with a 2005 red Volvo XC90. The vehicle was located around 5 p.m. in Park County, a remote mountain area around 50 miles southwest of Denver. A shelter-in-place order was issued and a body was discovered about two-tenths of a mile from the vehicle. The Park County Coroner’s Office confirmed Thursday morning that the deceased individual was Lyle. A cause of death has not been released.
The school dismissed students on a controlled release just before noon. Parents picked up children at a separate location. Students who drove to school were escorted to their cars and students who ride the bus were held until their bus arrived.
Denver East High School will be out of session for the rest of the week. For the remainder of the school year, Superintenent Marrero said two armed officers will be present.
Students Demand Change Amid Increased Gun Violence
The double shooting comes after a 16-year-old Denver East High School student was shot near campus last month, forcing the school into lockdown, according to CBS News. The victim, identified as Luis Garcia, died two weeks later after he was taken off life support.
Following that shooting, students rallied for the return of school resource officers (SROs) who were removed from DPS campuses in 2020 after the Denver School Board unanimously voted to end its contract with the city’s police department. In a letter to the Board of Education Wednesday, Superintendent Marrero said he’s “committing” to having an armed officer at each comprehensive high school. He said he is aware it violates executive limitations but that he “can no longer stand on the sidelines” and is “willing to accept the consequences.” By Thursday, the board also voted to suspend the policy that prevents armed officers from patrolling the schools.
Mayor Hancock said in a statement that removing SROs was a mistake and they should be quickly returned, ABC News reports. He also called on Congress to pass “common sense” gun legislation.
“Parents are angry and frustrated, and they have a right to be,” he said. “Easy access to guns must be addressed in our country — Denver cannot do this alone.”
Students had planned on Wednesday to testify before the Colorado Legislature regarding a bill that would strengthen the state’s extreme risk law. Between the start of the school year and the February incident, 10 guns have been confiscated from Denver Public Schools.
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