DENVER (KDVR) — Wednesday’s shooting at East High School marks the third school-related shooting of soccer coach Kirk Bast’s career in education, he said.
“Shocked, and then to be honest I’m angry,” Bast said. “It brings things back up, that’s for sure.”
Bast has been the soccer coach at East High School for 10 years. He was not at the school during Wednesday’s shooting but said he knows the two faculty members who were shot.
“I think about what heroes those two gentlemen are because who knows what that kid would have done with that gun today,” he said.
He said over the next few weeks, East students will need extra help and support processing what happened outside their classrooms.
“What people don’t realize with this is, it’s the day of and it’s many days after,” Bast said.
Five weeks ago, one of his soccer players, Luis Garcia was shot outside East High School. The 16-year-old died several days later.
“The funeral was just Saturday,” Bast said. “This happened to a good kid, and here we are again with innocent victims.”
Arapahoe High School shooting in 2013
Unfortunately, Bast has been through a school shooting before.
“I was a counselor in the counseling department at Arapahoe [High School] the day of the shooting,” he said. “I was in lockdown … Another counselor and I grabbed tripods because he was a basketball coach and we’re like if we gotta defend these kids in our office, we need something and it makes me think a little bit about today.”
In December 2013, an armed student opened fire inside Arapahoe High School. He killed 17-year-old Claire Davis before taking his own life.
“The entire incident lasted about 80 seconds but we had kids for months, for years that felt like he was outside of their classroom. But their perception is their reality and that’s what East will be facing now,” Bast said.
He said he believes more can and should be done to protect students.
“The SROs were pulled from DPS schools and that’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” Bast said. “Our SRO, James Englert, was my hero. He literally ran to the gunfire. He literally went into the library where the gunman was. He put his life on the line for me, for kids, for everybody who was there.”
Additionally, he said he hopes politicians and policymakers take students’ concerns seriously.
“I really hope the state legislators don’t look upon the kids who marched on the Capitol as, isn’t that cute? These kids really care about something. That they take it personally and they look at it as if it’s their child,” Bast said.
Finally, he said as talks move forward about how to prevent similar tragedies in the future, he hopes the community remembers the victims and not just the statistics.
“As long as we remember everyone as people, it’s a lot easier and if we can find a person in our life who is your Luis, who is your dean, your teacher, whoever makes a difference to you and we can look at it in that regard then I think we’ll move, we’ll come to action,” Bast said.