2 faculty members injured in shooting at Denver high school; suspect found dead in Park County

WATCH: Shooting at Denver high school, police searching for student suspect
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 10:32 AM MDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:57 AM MDT
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DENVER (KKTV) - A Denver high student shot two school deans during a pat-down on campus Wednesday morning, according to police.

“This particular student actually had a safety plan that was in place where they were to be searched at the beginning of the school day every day,” said Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas. “They had been searched previously to today and never had a weapon on them before; however, today during that search, which took place away from other students, away from other school staff, they produced a weapon and fired shots.”

The shooting happened in the area of the office, Thomas added.

Both deans were injured and rushed to the hospital.

“For an unrelated situation, paramedics were in the building when the shooting occurred and they were able to immediately administer support and treatment to the individuals who are wounded, and I think that will play a huge role in their ultimate recovery,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

“We want to thank our first responders, are EMTs, our firefighters and certainly our police department, who were on the scene within minutes,” he added.

The student suspect fled the campus, possibly still armed. Though name was initially withheld due to his age, police later released his name due to the threat he posed. He was identified as 17-year-old Austin Lyle.

Authorities believed Lyle was traveling on Highway 285 and law enforcement agencies along the route were on high alert, according to an 11 News law enforcement source close to the situation. Hours later, the suspect’s vehicle was found in the woods near the town of Bailey in Park County. Multiple agencies responded to the small community, including the Denver Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and ATF. After approaching the car and finding it empty, a body was found about two-tenths of a mile away.

The Park County Coroner’s Office confirmed early Thursday morning that Lyle was the deceased.

“[People] should feel relieved that we came up here and solved the problem and that we don’t have to wait until tomorrow morning or the next few days,” said Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw during a news conference Wednesday night.

An autopsy will determine the cause and manner of death.

The victims of the shooting have been identified as Jerald Mason and Eric Sinclair. At last report Wednesday night, Mason was back home and doing well, while Sinclair remained hospitalized in serious condition.

Gov. Jared Polis released a statement on the shooting Wednesday afternoon:

“We are closely monitoring this tragic situation. We know that the two victims have been hospitalized and we pray for their health and swift recovery. Our students should and must be able to attend school without fear for their safety, their parents deserve the peace of mind that their children are safe in classrooms, and teachers should be able to work safely and without harm. We also reflect that today is the anniversary of the Boulder King Soopers shooting. We appreciate the quick action taken by East High school faculty and staff to secure the school and make sure students were safe and this is an ongoing situation, and State Troopers and the Colorado Bureau of Investigations are supporting local law enforcement in responding to this tragedy.”

CBS Denver is reporting that 10 guns have been confiscated from students in Denver schools between the start of the school year and February. Hancock pledged to do more to address safety in city schools.

“To the parents, I want to share with you that I’ve had a chance to talk to a couple of them who were here, obviously. And they’re frustrated. And they’re angry. As they should be. Those of us who are parents and who have young people in this building, we certainly understand their frustration and their pain. Faculty and staff are concerned. We must continue to work on addressing safety in our school buildings and in our city in general. And we will. We’ve never stopped with that. The police department had been working to have a presence outside this building for quite some time. I think it’s clear now we need to do even more.”