Volvo X90 belonging to Denver school shooting suspect Austin Lyle found
DENVER — A student fatally injured two Denver high school administrators on Wednesday after a handgun was found during a daily search of the boy that was being conducted because of behavioral issues, authorities said .
The 17-year-old suspect fled and his vehicle was later found in a remote mountainous area about 50 miles southwest of Denver, but he remains at large. A shelter-in-place order has been issued by authorities in the small town of Bailey, Park County.
Denver school officials, criticized for lax security, said they would put armed officers at public high schools in the city.
The shooting happened at a school rocked by frequent blockades and violence, including the killing of a classmate who prompted students from East High School to march on the Colorado Capitol building at the start of the month. Parents who converged on the campus of 2,500 students on Wednesday blamed officials for not doing enough to protect their children.
“I’m sick of it,” said Jesse Haase, who planned to speak with his daughter about pulling her out of class for the rest of the school year.
Police are looking for Austin Lyle for attempted homicide. The weapon used in the shooting was not immediately recovered, Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas said.
Police issued an alert linking Lyle to a red 2005 Volvo X90 with Colorado plates and offered a reward of up to $2,000 for information about the case.
“He is obviously armed and dangerous and ready to use the weapon, as we learned this morning,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock warned as law enforcement searched.
The shooting happened just before 10 a.m. at an office as Lyle was being searched as part of a ‘security plan’ that required him to be searched daily, officials said .
One of the injured administrators was discharged from the hospital Wednesday afternoon and the second remained in serious condition, said Denver Health hospital spokeswoman Heather Burke.
On March 3, hundreds of students skipped class and marched in support of tougher gun laws after the death of 16-year-old Luis Garcia, who was shot while sitting in a car Near the school.
There were no school resource officers on campus at the time of Wednesday’s shooting, Thomas said.
In June 2020, amid a summer of protests against racial injustice following the murder of George Floyd, Denver Public Schools became one of the districts across the United States that decided to phase out the use of police in school buildings. This push has been fueled by criticism that school resource officers have disproportionately arrested black students, dragging them into the criminal justice system.
After Wednesday’s shooting, two armed officers will be stationed at East High School and other high schools in the city will also each receive one officer, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Alex Marrero said.
In a letter to the city’s Board of Education on Wednesday, Marrero said his decision violated district policies, but added he “can’t stay away any longer.”
“I am ready to accept the consequences of my actions,” he wrote. “I am the head of this district who is responsible for ensuring the safety of our scholars and staff on a daily basis.”
Gun violence in schools has become increasingly common in the United States with more than 1,300 shootings recorded between 2000 and June 2022, according to researchers. Those shots killed 377 people and injured 1,025, according to a database maintained by the researchers.
East High School students were scheduled to testify Wednesday afternoon before the Colorado Legislature on gun safety bills.
“It’s the reality of being young in America: witnessing a shooting and waiting for information just hours before you have to testify in support of gun safety bills,” Gracie said. Taub, a 16-year-old student at East High School. and volunteer with Students Demand Action in Colorado.
Lyle transferred to East High School after being disciplined and expelled from a high school near Aurora last year due to violations of school policies, said Lauren Snell, spokesperson for the school district of Cherry Creek. She declined to specify the violations.
Authorities have not revealed why he was searched daily.
Marrero said student safety plans are enacted in response to “past educational and behavioral experiences,” adding that it’s standard practice in Colorado public schools.
But daily searches are rare, said Franci Crepeau-Hobson, a professor at the University of Colorado at Denver who specializes in school violence prevention.
“Obviously they were worried,” Crepeau-Hobson said. “I can’t imagine they would do that if there hadn’t been a history of a child carrying a gun.”
School safety plans are often imposed after students exhibit threatening or suicidal behavior, said Christine Harms of the Colorado School Safety Resource Center.
East High School, not far from the city center, was taken under lockdown as police investigated the shooting and hundreds of parents lined a road outside the school.
Some parents and students expressed frustration at the school violence as they surrounded the police chief. Thomas listened quietly, nodding and promising to talk to the school board.
At the edge of the crowd, a man said members of the city’s school board should be called back for getting rid of the police at the school, telling a nearby officer “I just want you to be able to do your work”.
In response to the shooting, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre repeated President Joe Biden’s call for tougher gun laws, including a ban on firearms. assault and high-capacity magazines, and for Congress to “do something” about gun control.
Wednesday was also the second anniversary of 10 people being shot and killed at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.
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