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East High School shooting highlights missing school resource officers in Denver schools

Mayor and parents call for SROs to return to Denver schools
Mayor and parents call for SROs to return to Denver schools 01:06

The shooting at East High School in Denver on Wednesday morning left two deans who worked at the school injured. The search for the suspect expanded outside the Denver metro area as authorities asked for the public's help in locating the student.

 Austin Lyle Denver Police

That student has been identified as Austin Lyle, 17. He is described as a Black male, 5-foot-5, 150 pounds with black hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a green hoodie. 

A vehicle similar to the 2005 red Volvo XC90 with Colorado License BSC-W10 associated with East High School shooting suspect Austin Lyle.  Denver Police

He is believed to be associated with a 2005 red Volvo XC90 with Colorado license plate BSCW10. He is wanted for attempted homicide charges. Police urge anyone who sees Lyle or the vehicle to not contact them and call police immediately. 

Police said they are identifying Lyle because of the safety threat he poses. 

Denver Public Schools confirmed that the two victims are Eric Sinclair and Jerald Mason, both adult males, described as deans at the school. One was listed in serious condition, while the other was initially listed in critical and then upgraded to serious after surgery on Wednesday afternoon. 

The student, Lyle, is known to school staff and police and had agreed to a safety plan to be patted down daily before entering school. 

DPS Superintendent Alex Marerro is considering re-establishing some sort of police presence in schools after the Denver school board voted to remove school resource officers in June 2020

East High School was placed on a lockdown after a shooting on Wednesday morning. Police officers and the Denver Fire Department rushed to the school before 10 a.m. Wednesday. CBS

"In terms of what we can expect at East from here until the end of the school year in collaboration with Chief Thomas and support of our mayor and support communicated to the Board of Education, we have two armed officers here at East until the end of the school year. We're looking forward to expanding that conversation to see how we can re-establish a relationship with a presence at our schools and particularly our high schools," Marerro said. 

CBS News Colorado has obtained Denver Police data that shows firearms crimes in DPS high schools are up. In 2018, there were nine aggravated assaults with firearm offenses in Denver public high schools reported to police, but in 2022, the first full year without SROs, there were 14. 

One parent of an East High School student told CBS News Colorado Investigator Brian Maass that police on campus act as a deterrent. 

"A police car was parked in front of the school every day and I think it just sent a message to kids, not a threat but just for safety. Like, 'We're here for your safety' and I felt really good about it and the kids all felt really good about it," said East High parent, Mary Stromberg. 

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock released a statement that read, "It's also time to return School Resource Officers in our schools. Removing them was a mistake and we must move swiftly to correct it. We're ready to work with DPS, and we all have to step up as a community and be part of the solution."

The Denver Board of Education has canceled its meeting scheduled for Thursday. Three of the seats on the school board are up for reelection in November, including one board member who pushed for the dissolution of SROs in DPS. 

Parents and school guardians are urging DPS to bring back RSOs 03:27

Safety in Colorado schools is a topic of great concern, especially at East High School since 16-year-old Luis Garcia was shot near Denver East High School and died weeks after the shooting

According to Denver Public Schools, 10 guns have been confiscated from students in Denver schools between the start of the school year and February.  

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