By COLLEEN SLEVIN and JESSE BEDAYN
DENVER (AP) -- A 17-year-old student was found dead in the Colorado woods after being accused of shooting and wounding two administrators at his Denver high school where students and parents were already fed up over recent violence and a lack of action by officials, authorities said Thursday.
The shooting occurred Wednesday morning at East High School, not far from downtown, while two administrators searched Austin Lyle for weapons, a daily requirement because of the boy's behavioral issues, authorities said.
Lyle fled after the shooting and his body was found Wednesday night near his car in a remote, mountain area about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Denver, outside the small town of Bailey, in Park County. The county coroner's office confirmed early Thursday that the body was Lyle's. Cause of death was not released, pending an autopsy.
The administrators who were shot were unarmed, said Denver schools spokesperson Scott Pribble.
"It stuns me that we have civilian people... charged with having to search a student or anyone for weapons," said Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers. He said patting down students -- especially for weapons -- should fall to trained, armed school resource officers fitted with body armor.
If a resource officer had done the search at East High School, he added, "for the most part, I don't see it being a tragedy."
Students from East High School and others across Denver rallied at the state Capitol Thursday to push for gun reform.
"We're scared to go to school," said East High School sophomore Anna Hay. "We want to have these legislators look us in our eyes when they tell us they won't pass gun legislation."
As Wednesday's shooting unfolded, Hay could hear sirens from emergency vehicles and had a sinking realization that the threat was real. "Watching your friends and the fear in their eyes...it's the worst feeling in the world."
The city's Board of Education convened a special meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday to discuss the shooting and school security. The meeting came after parents who converged on the 2,500-student East High campus Wednesday voiced frustration that officials were not adequately protecting their children.
The shooting occurred at a school shaken by frequent lockdowns and violence, including the recent killing outside the school of a classmate that prompted East High School students to march on the Colorado Capitol earlier this month.
"I am sick of it," said Jess Haase, who planned to talk with her daughter about taking her out of classes for the rest of the school year.
Shootings in the nation's schools more than tripled during a five-year period ending in 2021 compared to the previous five years, jumping from an average of 38 annually to more than 130 annually, according to a database from the Naval Postgraduate School. Since 2000, there have been more than 1,300 school shootings and related incidents that killed 377 people and wounded 1,025, according to the database.
The Colorado shooting was at least the second to occur at or near a school this week in the U.S. On Monday, a 15-year-old was arrested in the fatal shooting of a student outside of a Dallas-area high school.