Denver’s East High School closed day after student shot near campus
Denver’s East High School was closed Tuesday as a 16-year-old student remained hospitalized in critical condition after being shot near the campus a day earlier.
Administrators also canceled all after-school and extracurricular activities. School was expected to return to regular operation Wednesday, according to a letter Principal Terita Walker sent families.
“We will be taking this school closure day to take a collective breath as a community and create opportunities to seek the emotional and mental health support that our community requires,” Walker wrote.
The shooting took place near East 17th Avenue and City Park Esplanade and briefly led to a lockdown at East on Monday afternoon.
The male student who was shot remained in critical condition as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the police department. He has not been publicly identified.
The Denver Police Department took two male suspects into custody Monday, although officials said they did not know the motive for the shooting.
A 17-year-old is being held for investigation of illegal possession of a handgun and a 16-year-old is being held for investigation of auto theft and felony eluding. Neither has been arrested on charges related to the shooting itself “at this stage of the investigation,” according to a statement released by the police department.
Both teenagers are Denver Public Schools students, though they do not attend East, according to the statement. Their names are not being released by police because they are juveniles.
In the fall, Superintendent Alex Marrero said gun violence in and around the city’s schools was a top concern of his.
“No parent should have to worry if their child will make it home from school,” Mayor Michael Hancock tweeted. “Accessibility to guns is making our streets unsafe. Do we care more about guns or the lives of our children? We need to pray. We need to act. We need to decide what type of society we want to be.”
East High School was also one of several Colorado schools to receive hoax calls about active shooters last year.
Mental health services and community support will be offered to students and educators at the school and district, said Rachel Childress, a DPS spokesperson, in an email.
“Crisis support and additional security will also be present as we work with local law enforcement to counteract these incidents of city violence,” she said.
“In order to ensure that we are maintaining a safe, welcoming learning environment we encourage all students and parents to report any known or suspected threats to our Safe2Tell line,” Childress added. “We also encourage parents to engage in conversations with their students to encourage best safety practices, and to encourage their students to speak out when they have knowledge of potential dangers to themselves or others at school.”
She also provided a list of resources for students needing crisis or other support:
- Colorado Crisis Services: 1-844-493-8255; text “TALK” to 38255
- I Matter Colorado: online referral for 6 free sessions of mental health support
- Safe2Tell: 1-877-542-7233
At least three members of the district’s Board of Education — Auon’tai Anderson, Michelle Quattlebaum and Scott Esserman — released a statement about the shooting on social media.
“Our hearts are with all those involved, their families, friends, and our community,” the statement said. “We are supporting Superintendent Marrero and his team in providing resources to students and employees who may be in need of assistance.”
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