East High School closed after student shot near campus

East High School in Denver closed Tuesday after a 16-year-old student was shot near the campus a day earlier.

All after-school and extracurricular activities were also canceled. School is expected to return to regular operation on Wednesday, according to a letter Principal Terita Walker sent families on Monday.

“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,” the letter said.

The Denver Police Department took two suspects in custody Monday, although officials did not know the motive for the shooting.

The incident took place near 17th and City Park Esplanade and briefly led to a lockdown at East High School. The student who was shot was injured, with what police previously called a “poor prognosis.”

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,” tweeted Mayor Michael Hancock. “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,” said the statement. “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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