DENVER (KDVR) — A 16-year-old boy arrested at Thomas Jefferson High School around the start of the school year was wanted on attempted murder charges in Adams County.
The Problem Solvers have uncovered considerably more information about the arrest of that teen and his younger brother at the high school than was released publicly, either by the Denver Police Department or Denver Public Schools.
Thomas Jefferson High School went into a 15-minute lockdown at the time, when the two brothers, ages 16 and 15, reportedly fought with a school resource officer. The officer was trying to apprehend the older brother for a warrant in Adams County.
Days after the school year had already started, the two brothers showed up to enroll on Friday, Aug. 25. That’s when the vice principal recognized the 16-year-old as someone who was wanted by law enforcement.
16-year-old charged in robbery and shooting
FOX31 is not naming the 16-year-old, but he’s been charged as an adult in a robbery and shooting in Commerce City on July 7.
According to an arrest affidavit, the 16-year-old and three other alleged members of the Tre 4 Crips gang — who call themselves the “Run out Gang,” or ROG — robbed a 23-year-old man of his cell phone and $1,000 in cash.
Court documents state the group brought the victim to the Holly Park Apartments, where the 16-year-old and another suspect pistol-whipped the victim and then shot him when he tried to run.
The arrest affidavit states the victim “had been shot 3 times. Once in his left eye, leaving a bullet lodged in his brain, a through and through shot to his left bicep, and one to his lower back near the spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.”
Months earlier, expulsion denied after gun incident
Sources tell the Problem Solvers the 16-year-old attended East High School last year when Denver Police arrested him in April on felony menacing.
Sources tell the Problem Solvers the teenager got into a dispute with another student at East High School. The conflict moved off campus into the 2300 block of East Colfax Avenue, where the 16-year-old allegedly pointed a gun at the other student.
A source told FOX31 that East High School administrators recommended the 16-year-old be expelled, but the expulsion was denied by district leaders for unknown reasons.
That apparently allowed the boy to think he could enroll at Thomas Jefferson High School on Aug. 25, when he was arrested in the July 7 shooting in Commerce City.
“I don’t think the students of T.J. and the faculty at T.J. deserve to be put at any more risk than anyone else,” said Colleen Callaway Eager, a member of the Parents Safety Advocacy Group, or P-SAG, which formed after two administrators were shot at East High School on March 22.
Callaway Eager questions why the 16-year-old wasn’t expelled before he tried to enroll at Thomas Jefferson High School.
“You know, it’s infuriating. But it also makes us realize that as parents, you know, we spent so many years assuming that the school district was doing its job and caring for our children and didn’t ever think we had to go to the detail of reading the matrix,” Callaway Eager said.
The matrix is the discipline panel that guides punishments in the Denver Public Schools system.
What is DPS policy for gun incidents?
“The district policy is that if a student is caught with a weapon on campus, you will be going through an expulsion hearing, period. No ifs, ands or buts,” Board of Education Vice President Auon’tai Anderson said.
But Anderson did acknowledge that if a student is arrested for a gun crime off-campus, the district might not push for expulsion.
“If there’s not a direct nexus to the building, then that’s when DPS would say, well, we’re not going to go and punish the student, because there’s no evidence to say that this issue is going to lead into the school and school day,” Anderson said.
But multiple sources told FOX31 there was a direct nexus in the Denver menacing case, because the conflict started at East High School and then moved off-campus to a nearby 7-Eleven convenience store, where the 16-year-old allegedly pointed a gun at the other student.
“That student is still innocent until proven guilty. And once that student is proven guilty, they will face whatever repercussions that their actions warrant,” Anderson said.
Teens face counts as repeat offenders
But Callaway Eager said any kid charged with felony menacing or attempted murder is not a student who would be safe to attend Thomas Jefferson High School: “Absolutely not.”
The Problem Solvers have learned through sources that the 16-year-old boy arrested at Thomas Jefferson High School faces the following counts for that incident:
- 2 counts of assault in the second degree of a peace officer
- 2 counts of third-degree assault of a first responder
- Third-degree assault
- Resisting arrest
- Obstruction government operations
- Repeat juvenile offender
The 15-year-old brother faces the following counts:
- Attempted second-degree assault of a peace officer
- Resisting arrest
- Repeat juvenile offender
“You know, one of the things I’m grateful of is — on the small, bright side — is I think it’s an example of the SRO (school resource officer) working to prevent and do their job, which is to focus on safety,” Callaway Eager said of the SRO’s intervention in the wanted 16-year-old’s case.
A spokesman for Denver Public Schools told FOX31 the district can’t answer most of our questions or even acknowledge if the 16-year-old boy was recommended for expulsion because of federal student privacy laws.
Just last week, the district sent a letter to school parents seeking volunteers to serve on a committee that will update the district’s discipline matrix.