DENVER (KDVR) — Rudy Villarreal worked in education for more than four decades and spent the last 10 years of his career at East High School as the Dean of Students and head of discipline.
His career came to an end on Oct. 5, 2015, when a student violently attacked him inside a classroom.
“I sat down in a chair, and I reached over to get another chair for him to sit down and that’s when he hit me, blindsided me on the side of the head and I went down,” Villarreal said.
The attack happened as Villareal was getting ready to call the student’s mom to report misbehavior.
“He said the reason he was doing it to me because he didn’t like me, he said ‘I didn’t like Mr. V’,” Villarreal said.
When Villarreal was unconscious, the student kicked him multiple times in the left eye leaving behind significant damage, including a torn cornea and double detached retina.
“I went through three corneal transplants, I went to numerous surgeries for my retina, and I developed glaucoma from that,” he said.
Villarreal lost 15% of his eyesight and suffers from PTSD following the incident.
“What bothers me and upsets me, little did I know, that morning was going to be the start of me ending my career. Little did Mr. Sinclair know when he walked in that morning, later he was going to get hurt,” Villarreal said.
When Villarreal couldn’t return to work in 2015, Eric Sinclair took over his position. Sinclair is one of the victims of Wednesday’s shooting at East High and remains in serious condition as of Thursday night.
“A friend of mine told me about it that it was Eric Sinclair. I was literally in tears because I know Eric well, but right away it took me back to knowing that Eric’s going to go through what I went through,” he said.
Villarreal said both situations are inexcusable and preventable.
“Eric’s career changed and I feel it because he’s going to go through what I went through, and it’s not fair. It’s not fair the schools allow these kids to come in and put in jeopardy the lives of our kids,” Villarreal said
In his case, the court ruled it an incompetency case and the student never faced charges.