Austin Lyle was identified as the 17-year-old student accused in the shooting of two adult faculty members outside Denver East High School in Denver, Colorado, on March 22, 2023. Lyle was found dead several hours after the shooting, the Park County Coroner confirmed.
“The offender has been identified as 17-year-old Austin Lyle who is described as a Black male, 5’5, 150 lbs, with Black hair and Brown eyes and was last seen wearing a green hoodie,” Denver police tweeted before he was found dead. Police also shared a photo of Lyle.
Police wrote that Lyle was “believed to be associated with a 2005 Red Volvo XC90 with a License BSCW10.” He is “currently wanted for the charge of attempted homicide.”
Police later tweeted, “UPDATE: The East HS shooting suspect’s vehicle has been located in Park County and efforts to locate the suspect are ongoing. Additional updates will be posted to this thread as they become available.” CNN reported that the vehicle was located about 50 miles from the high school.
A body was discovered near the car at about 8:15 p.m. on March 22, Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw said in a news release.
“Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw confirms that earlier today a vehicle in connection with the East High School shooting was located on County Road 68 in Bailey. There was a large multi-agency response including Jefferson County Sheriff, Denver Police Department, FBI and ATF. Jefferson County SWAT approached the abandoned vehicle and after a search in the area, found a deceased person nearby,” the sheriff’s office said.
At the time of the sheriff’s office’s news release, the body had not been identified. But Park County Coroner David Kintz, Jr. later confirmed the identity of the person found dead as Lyle, according to a Facebook post from his office. Lyle’s next of kin was notified, according to the coroner. The coroner has not yet released the manner and cause of death.
“The Park County Coroners Office can confirm the identification of the decedent found tonight on Park County Rd 68 as Austin Lyle born in 2005. Mr. Lyles Next of Kin have been notified of the positive identification. The Park County Coroners Office will be continuing to conduct a death investigation and will have no further details after an autopsy is completed,” the Facebook post said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Both Victims, Who Are Administrators, Survived
Both victims survived the shooting, the police chief, Ron Thomas, said in a news conference. The Denver Post reported that they are both administrators.
Thomas, said in the news conference that two adult males suffered gunshot wounds. One of the two victims is in serious but stable condition and the other is in surgery listed in critical condition, according to Thomas.
According to the Denver Post, the victims are “two adult faculty members.” The suspect’s motive also has not been released.
A GoFundMe created to help the victims and their families identified them as Jerald Mason and Eric Sinclair, who are both deans at the school.
“This page is to support Jerald Mason and Eric Sinclair who are deans at Denver East High School. They were shot by a 17-year-old student. As of this afternoon, one of the victims was undergoing surgery and the second was in stable condition at a hospital,” Kai Pelletier, who created the GoFundMe campaign, wrote. “Sinclair is in serious condition as of Wednesday evening after undergoing surgery. Mason has been discharged from the hospital. But we still need to show our support to the east highschool community staff and students. Our school loves these deans and they have contributed so much to our community. Help them in any way you can. Anything is appreciated.”
2. Gunfire Rang Out While Lyle Was Being Searched for Weapons as Part of a Daily Safety Plan, the Police Chief Says
In the news conference, the chief provided some details of the shooting.
Gunshots rang out during a search due to a safety plan, according to the chief. The school superintendent confirmed in that news conference that the victims were staff members.
The Post reported that a school official said the shooting occurred outside the school, describing it as “near East Campus.”
According to the Post, the shooting occurred while Lyle was “undergoing a required daily search for weapons.”
The Denver Post reported that the school stopped having Denver police assigned to the school after the Denver Public Schools’ Board of Education “removed all school resource officers following the national reckoning over the murder of George Floyd in 2020.”
Rob Gould, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, said to CNN, “It is unacceptable that our students and educators are forced to work in environments where we fundamentally cannot ensure their safety from gun violence.”
Denver police wrote on Twitter, “ALERT: #DPD is responding to a shooting at East High School. Unknown number of victims at this time. Investigators are working to gather information, expect large police presence in the area. Updates will be posted to this thread as they are made available. #Denver.”
Police then responded by writing, “UPDATE: At this time, two adult victims have been located and transported to area hospitals. It is believed the suspect is no longer on scene, and investigators are working to develop additional info.”
3. Austin Lyle Was Previously Disciplined & Removed From Another School & Was on Probation in Connection to a Ghost Gun Case
According to KDVR, Austin Lyle was previously a student in another district, Cherry Creek Schools. The news station reported that, “Lyle was previously disciplined for violations of board policy and was removed from that district’s Overland High School.”
No other details about the disciplinary issues at Lyle’s previous school have been released. The Denver school district also initially declined to provide further information about why Lyle was required to undergo a daily search for weapons while he was a student at East High School and did not provide any information about past issues involving him, citing privacy laws.
According to CBS News, Lyle was arrested in 2021 on charges accusing him of possessing a “ghost gun” and an extended gun magazine, which is also known as a high-capacity magazine. He also had minor “run-ins” with the police, law enforcement sources told the news network.
“Other law enforcement sources familiar with Lyle told CBS News Colorado that in 2021, Lyle was attending Overland High School and students who went to the Aurora school with the teenager reported Lyle to the police after seeing pictures on social media of Lyle with a gun,” CBS reported, citing multiple law enforcement sources. “Sources say Aurora police searched Lyle’s home and found a gun, with no serial number, and an extended magazine. The teenager was arrested and a judge placed him on probation, which sources say was still in effect this week. It’s illegal in Colorado for a juvenile to be in possession of a handgun.”
4. Denver East High School Went Into Lockdown, the School District Says
Denver Public Schools wrote on Twitter that Denver East High School was in lockdown.
“UPDATE: EAST HIGH SCHOOL LOCKDOWN,” the district wrote.
“All students are in their third period classrooms. We are working on a release plan for the students. More information to come.”
The district also tweeted, “We will be doing a controlled release once DPD allows. Parents can pick up their children @ 17th & Esplanade. Students who drove will be escorted to their cars in the parking lot & can leave. Students who ride the bus will be held until their bus arrives.”
The ATF tweeted, “BREAKING: ATF is on scene of a reported shooting at East High School in Denver, Colorado. Please refer all media inquiries to the @DenverPolice.”
A woman tweeted, “My brother is currently in lockdown for a school shooting in Denver. He is a full time substitute teach at east high school. I’m so mad.” She shared text messages saying he was locked in a classroom.
5. Denver Students Recently Protested Against Gun Violence
According to Denver 7, Denver students recently protested against gun violence.
A 16-year-old student was killed “in a shooting near the school on February 13,” the television station reported, adding, “Students said that lockdown drills have become routine parts of the school day.”
After the February shooting, students “attended a Denver City Council meeting to demand action on gun violence and school safety,” Denver 7 reported.
The Denver Post also reported on students’ past safety concerns, writing that, “A weapon was found on campus the day after students returned to class.”
A photo showed crime scene tape at the high school on March 22, 2023.
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