A A male student who was being searched during a routine security check shot two faculty members at a Denver high school early Wednesday morning, police and school officials said.
The suspected shooter, identified as 17-year-old Austin Lyle, was at large and the gun was not found at the school, Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas told a conference call. press.
Both school administrators were taken to hospital, Thomas said. One was in serious but stable condition, and the other was in surgery in critical condition, he said.
“It is certainly concerning that we have an individual who is not in our custody at this time, who is armed with a weapon,” Thomas said, adding, “We have no idea where he is. is located”.
Lyle is wanted for attempted homicide, police said. The Department issued an alert linking Lyle to a red 2005 Volvo XC90 with Colorado plates and offered a $2,000 reward for more information.
East High School student had a ‘safety plan’
The student had a ‘safety plan’ with school staff and was regularly searched upon entering the building in a ‘secluded’ area near the front of the school, away from other students and staff, Thomas said.
School staff did not recover any firearms during previous searches, Thomas said. But on Wednesday, the student pulled a handgun during the search, fired shots and fled the building, Thomas said. Officers received a call about a shooting at 9:15 a.m. local time, he said.
Paramedics were already in the building when the shooting happened because they were responding to a student who had an allergic reaction during an unrelated incident, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. This student was also taken to hospital, he said.
Denver Public Schools superintendent Alex Marrero said students are assigned “safety plans” based on “past educational and behavioral experiences.” He declined to give further details when asked by reporters.
Officers were executing a search warrant at the student’s home, Thomas said.
East High School students released from lockdown
Denver Public Schools said students were released from confinement Wednesday afternoon. “Students who drove will be escorted to their cars and may leave. Students taking the bus will be held until their bus arrives,” Denver Public Schools wrote on Twitter.
The Denver Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was on the scene, the agency said on Twitter.
East High School will add armed officers
School would be canceled until the end of the week and two armed officers would be stationed at the school until the end of the school year, Marrero said.
“I really, really think we shouldn’t be here, but here we are,” Marrero said. “My prayers to the Eastern Community and of course to our two staff members who are in hospital.”
East High School is located on the east side of Denver and has about 2,500 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
East High School shooting comes weeks after student’s death
The shooting comes more than a month after a 16-year-old student, star soccer player Luis Garcia, was shot dead near the school, causing a lockdown. Garcia was in a car when someone fired from another vehicle, police said at the time.
Garcia was taken off life support in early March and students gathered for a memorial outside the school the next day, local media reported. That same week, hundreds of students marched to the Colorado State Capitol to demand that state lawmakers take action to prevent more gun violence.
“This school has been through an amazing time over the past year,” Thomas said. He added: “We have had a significant presence in the school since the first incident which happened just over a month ago.”
Alexander Cisneros, a junior from East High School, and another Denver-area high school student were previously scheduled to testify before the Colorado Legislature on Wednesday regarding a bill that would strengthen the state’s extreme risk law.
“Our school experience shouldn’t be completely shaped by gun violence, and every incident is traumatic for our entire community,” said Gracie Taub, 16, a sophomore at East High School, a volunteer with Students Demand Action. in Colorado and co-chair of the school chapter called Students Demand Action. “We call on lawmakers to meet this moment with the urgency it needs – we cannot sit around waiting for another tragedy to unfold.”
83rd school grounds shooting this year
The shooting at East High is the 83rd shooting on a K-12 school campus this calendar year, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database. Last year saw the highest number of shooting incidents on school grounds in the United States since at least 1970, according to the database.
“We can’t keep living like this,” said U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., who represents Denver, wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “We must do more to protect our schools and our community from gun violence.”
Meanwhile, March for Our Lives student activists planned to demonstrate in five US state capitals this week to mark five years since the initial marches following the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Wednesday also marked two years since the mass shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado that left ten people dead.