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Denver school shooting suspect died by suicide, DA says; leaders vow to put police back on campuses

Students leave East High School in Denver after a shooting there on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. (Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post/TNS)

The suicide of suspected Denver East High School shooter Austin Lyle and the declaration by Denver Public Schools’ superintendent that police officers will be put back in schools reverberated Thursday with the city’s top law enforcer vowing aggressive prosecution of juveniles involved in violence.

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann also called on Colorado lawmakers to pass stricter gun control as demanded by East High students who recently walked out of class and testified in the state capitol. Scores of students and parents rallied again at the Capitol Thursday demanding stricter gun control.

McCann called DPS Superintendent Alex Marrero’s decision “a courageous and necessary step,” urging DPS school board support.

“I know the city of Denver is mourning after yesterday’s shooting at East High School and the subsequent suicide of the troubled young man who committed the shooting,” McCann said in a statement issued Thursday morning as DPS officials were meeting in a closed executive session.

“Parents, students and teachers are understandably outraged and angry that this happened at the school,” she said.

Denver district attorney officials will “aggressively prosecute juveniles involved in violent activities” and also provide “alternatives such as mental health and substance misuse treatment, job training, and counseling through our diversion programs” for students involved in crime, McCann said.

The body of suspected shooter Lyle was identified after it was found about 50 miles southwest of Denver near Bailey in Park County. Lyle was on probation for a prior weapons charge, The Denver Post confirmed.

The Park County Coroner’s Office confirmed in an agency Facebook posting that a dead body found Wednesday night on Park County Road 68 was Lyle, 17. The teen’s next of kin have been notified, officials said in their statement. An autopsy and death investigation were planned, they said.

No further details were released.

In Denver on Wednesday, police said Lyle was suspected of shooting and wounding two school administrators inside East High School after undergoing a required daily search for weapons that detected a gun. He then fled the building.

On Wednesday afternoon just before 4:30 p.m., police said Lyle’s vehicle, a red Volvo, had been found in Park County. A body was discovered at about 8:15 p.m. about a quarter mile from the vehicle, Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw said, but he did not immediately identify the body. A shelter-in-place order for nearby residents was lifted, he said, after the body was found.

The wounded administrators were hospitalized Wednesday. On Thursday, Denver Health Medical Center spokeswoman Heather Burke said Dean of Culture Eric Sinclair “is still listed in serious condition.” The other, East High’s restorative justice director, Jerald Mason, “is in good condition and was discharged” Wednesday, Burke said.

Denver Public Schools board members as part of a special meeting to discuss the shooting, with an executive session, also were planning to hold a public discussion described as “Board Discussion and Update on School, Student and Adult Safety.”


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