Following a shooting that took place at East High School in Denver, Colorado, Wednesday morning, police believe they found their potential suspect. Austin Lyle, a 17-year-old student of East High School, is believed to have been the gunman and was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in a remote area of Park County, 50 miles southwest of Denver. Before the fate of Lyle was known, residents in the county were issued a shelter-in-place order at the beginning of the search. Prior to the shooting, Lyle had a known track record with school officials for being a potential threat. The shooting took place when he pulled a handgun on school administrators while going through the pat-down part of a daily safety check Lyle was required to go through.
By Christine Fernando; March 23, 2023
The 17-year-old suspect in a shooting that wounded two administrators at a Denver high school was found dead in a nearby county, authorities said.
The Park County Coroner’s Office announced Thursday morning that the body was identified as that of Austin Lyle, the 17-year-old student Denver police had named as the suspect in the shooting at Denver’s East High School hours earlier. Lyle’s next of kin have been notified, and the coroner’s office was investigating the cause of death.
Police found the body Wednesday night in the Colorado woods near an abandoned car authorities said belonged to the suspect. The body was found in a remote mountain area of Park County, about 50 miles southwest of Denver, said Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw.
Authorities ordered residents of the nearby small town of Bailey to shelter in place as agencies, including the FBI, searched the forest.
Lyle was accused of pulling out a handgun and firing shots as he was patted down for weapons, a daily safety check because of the student’s behavioral problems, authorities said. Alex Marrero, superintendent of Denver Public Schools, declined to offer further details when asked by reporters.
Colorado’s Cherry Creek School District confirmed to USA TODAY that Lyle was “disciplined for a violation of board policy” and removed from a in Aurora, Colorado, during the 2021-2022 school year.
The suspect fled the building after the shooting. The weapon was not found at the school, and officers were searching the student’s home, Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas said at a news conference.
One of the administrators wounded in the shooting was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon and the other remained in serious condition, said Heather Burke, a spokesperson for Denver Health hospital.
East High School canceled classes through the end of the week for its 2,500 students and announced it would add two armed officers to be stationed at the school through the end of the academic year.
“I really, really feel strongly that we shouldn’t be here, but here we are,” Marrero said.
The school had already been shaken by violence, including the shooting of a 16-year-old student and star soccer player near the school in February. The student, Luis Garcia, was taken off life support early this month.
“This school has gone through a tremendous time over the last year or so,” Thomas said, adding the police department has “had a significant presence in the school” since Garcia was shot.
East High School students had planned on Wednesday to testify before the Colorado Legislature regarding a bill that would strengthen the state’s extreme risk law.
The shooting is the 83rd shooting on a K-12 school campus this calendar year, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database. It comes as March for Our Lives student activists plan to demonstrate in five U.S. state capitals this week to mark five years since the original marches in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Photo: Thomas Peipert/AP