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Dean shot by student who needed pat-down says system needs to change

East High Dean Wayne Mason spoke publicly for the first time on Monday about the shooting inside the school in March.

DENVER — One of the school deans shot in March by a student who needed a pat-down to attend class said on Monday that the system needs to change. 

At a press conference held by Denver Public Schools parents, staff and alumni, East High School Dean Wayne Mason shared what happened on March 22 publicly for the first time.  

"One thing that really bothers me is that my friend Eric Sinclair should have never been put into that position," Mason said 

Mason described the moments before a student, Austin Lyle, shot him and another dean, Sinclair.

"Eric took Austin back into room 129 into our office," Mason said. "Eric called for the AP (assistant principal) again. The AP didn't answer. Eric called for safety. Safety officers didn't answer."

No answer, he said, about a kid who needed to be patted down for weapons. Lyle was on a safety plan before attending East High School. Sources told 9NEWS Lyle was charged with “dangerous weapon possession” in 2021 in Arapahoe County. 

"Shortly after that, Eric was yelling in the radio," Mason said. 

According to Mason, Sinclair was asking him for help. He said when he got to the room he saw Sinclair and Lyle wrestling. 

Mason said Sinclair warned him about a gun when he grabbed Lyle. 

"I saw Eric go down, I had his arm – [Lyle] turned his wrist toward me, and he fired two shots and he hit me," Mason said. 

More than a month after the shooting, their colleagues are still doing these pat downs. It's a practice Mason said the district must change. He believes school deans have little to no training to do this safely. 

"It could happen again, and I think it is set up to happen again because we haven't moved forward yet," he told 9NEWS after the press conference. 

"It's a danger because if you don't know how to do a proper pat down then you are going to miss stuff. And if he was in school with a firearm weeks before he shot Eric and I – then I don't think they were done appropriately," Mason said. 

According to Mason, a student told staff Lyle had a gun in class weeks before the shooting in March. He said before someone could search Lyle, he ran away. 

"That is the biggest red flag there. And then he was allowed back into the school," Mason said. 

Mason doesn't know when Lyle came back to East High after a student reported seeing him with a gun, but Mason said he remembered seeing Lyle at school the day before the shooting. 

"The moment Austin pulled that trigger I forgave him. The regret I have right now he is not here for me to tell him that. And I wish he was," Mason said. 

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