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Shooting at East High School further angers parents, students who have been demanding action on gun violence

The East High School community has already been rocked by gun violence twice this school year
Posted: 2:05 PM, Mar 22, 2023
Updated: 2023-03-23 19:00:09-04
High School Shooting Denver
High School Shooting Denver

Editor's note: Authorities said Wednesday around 8:30 p.m. that a body was found in Park County near the vehicle the shooting suspect was associated with. The identity of the person has not been confirmed. Click here for more.

Frustrated parents gathered outside the shooting scene at East High School in Denver on Wednesday angry and once again demanding change.

It's a familiar and heightened sentiment for a school body that in recent months has taken to the streets and marched to the Colorado State Capitol to protest gun violence in schools.

“We as a society are not doing enough. We don’t have any police in the school. There’s no metal detectors,” said one grandparent to Denver7 who didn’t share her name. “I’m tired of hearing there’s no money for that. Don’t tell me that we don’t have money for that."

High School Shooting Denver
Two women hug after a school shooting at East High School Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Denver. Two school administrators were shot at the high school Wednesday morning after a handgun was found on a student subjected to daily searches, authorities said. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The shooting at East High School happened Wednesday morning around 9:50 a.m., leaving two adults injured. They were later identified as deans of the school. Information about the shooting quickly spread through the news and parents were alerted after the district sent an email stating there were injuries.

“So I rushed over here — for the fourth time this year — to get my son out of a lockdown,” shared a mom who’s only son was in the school when the shooting happened. “I’m pissed. I’m very mad. These kids spent so much time and energy protesting. I was there with them.”

For these students and families, the cause is personal.

Following the shooting of one of their classmates, 16-year-old Luis Garcia, a group of students voiced their concerns at a Denver City Council meeting on Feb. 21 to demand action. At the meeting, the group called for enhanced cameras, added security measures, school resource officers and limited access to campus.

A week later, hundreds of students from the school walked out of class and marched down to the capitol to demand an end to gun violence. Following that rally, hundreds of students were invited to speak to lawmakers inside the capitol with many of them taking seats in the Senate chambers to be sure they were visible to legislators.

Before Garcia died from his injuries, his fellow soccer teammates had rallied to raise over $200,000 through a GoFundMe to support the family.

East High students march to the capitol

“So much time and energy remembering Luis’ loss. Why is it landing nowhere? Nothing is being done,” the East High mom said in tears as she talked to Denver7’s Brian Sanders at the scene of Wednesday’s shooting. “My son is breaking down. He’s saying he doesn't want to die. It’s just ugly. He’s scared. He doesn’t want to show it.”

The East High School community has already been rocked by gun violence twice this school year. Last September, an East High School student and another man were injured in a shooting close to the school.

Parents say lockdowns have become too routine.

“Imagine how disruptive your work environment would be if you're going to work everyday with fear of these types of things going on at your place or employment,” said Steve, a parent of a sophomore at East High School.

The student suspect in Wednesday’s school shooting was under a school safety agreement that required him to be patted down and searched in the front office before school start, according to Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas. During a pat down Wednesday morning, the student allegedly pulled out a weapon and shot the two deans, the chief said.

One of the deans was reported to be in serious condition and the other was undergoing surgery and in critical condition.

Though the suspect's identity is known to police, he remained on the loose as of Wednesday afternoon.

Classes at East High School were canceled for the rest of the week and while parents and students protest and demand action on school safety, Wednesday's violence has already forced one change: Two armed officers will stay on the East High School campus through the remainder for the school year.

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Denver7 anchor Brian Sanders spoke to the mom of an East High sophomore who rushed to the campus to be reunited with her son.

And once again, gun violence will be a difficult conversation between parents and their kids at East High School.

Waiting to be reunited with her only son, one mom told Denver7 school shootings and lockdowns leave him wanting to be home-schooled.

“He’ll just look at me with a blank look on his face and just break down. He starts to cry and I’m like, 'why are you crying?'” she said. “And he’s like, 'I don’t want to die, mom. I have a whole life to live. Why do I have to die?'”

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