DENVER (KDVR) — For the first time, loved ones of Austin Lyle are publicly speaking about the 17-year-old East High School student.
According to police, Lyle shot two administrators last week which prompted a massive search that ended with the teen turning the gun on himself.
Lyle’s mother is grieving the loss of her son and is not ready to speak publicly, but she’s given a close friend permission to discuss a little about her son.
Janiece Mackey has known Lyle’s mother since the sixth grade and Lyle since he was born. Mackey is still trying to process what’s happened but said she is broken, hurt, disappointed, frustrated, sad and angry.
Mackey and Lyle’s mother wrote a letter. They want the public to know that Lyle had a brilliant mind, a bright future and was loved. The letter is titled, “A letter for Austin to reflect his legacy.”
It reads, in part, “You were committed to your athleticism, but equally your academics because you were a scholar athlete. Your abilities to continuously show up for yourself in ways to humanize yourself along your schooling journey is to be commended and honored. You were such a creative genius that deserved so much more from your schooling experiences.”
The letter goes into detail describing Lyle’s love for baseball, track, fishing, biking and the outdoors. It also states the teen’s innate ability to excel in math and science.
The full letter was provided to FOX31. You can read it here.
The future engineer left his imprint on loved ones like Mackey.
“I’ve known Austin since he was born,” said Mackey. “He was kind, he was humble, he was sweet, he was a nurturer, he was a fighter, and he was brilliant.”
Mackey and Lyle’s mother are lifelong friends.
“Just to hear her voice in tandem to his name in past tense was a lot,” Mackey cried. “It was a lot, we cried together.”
Mackey said she first found out about the East High shooting and Lyle’s involvement on the news.
“I thought, ‘It can’t be him,’ I click on the picture and see that it is unfortunately him,” Mackey said. “I just kept wanting to know is he alive, because I know him being a young Black male in that context. I was just wondering if he was going to be able to survive this.”
The letter states that Lyle was excited to be a senior at East High and ready for a fresh start at a new school. Wednesday’s shooting rocked the Denver community to its core and is bringing up important conversations.
”Unfortunately, this has been normalized in some ways, seeing and witnessing shootings in school contexts, but I knew him. He’s not just another face to me,” Mackey explained. “I know that your story is your story, but unfortunately it is not unique amidst the Black male experience with mental health.”
Alluding to certain struggles that youth are facing, Mackey believes that Lyle and students nationwide aren’t feeling supported, valued or cared for in the classroom.
“How are we seeing our students, how are we valuing them, specifically our young Black men?” Mackey questioned. “Are we really deeply seeing them?”
The Denver Public Schools superintendent stated publicly last week that the district failed Lyle. The letter written by Mackey and Lyle’s mother ends with questions, they wish the schooling systems would have asked through the eyes of Lyle.
Some of those questions included, “Austin, did you feel valued in your schooling context? Did you feel a deserved sense of belonging? And, how could we have honored you with a deeper ethic of care?”
“You don’t know him. You don’t know him,” Mackey said. “He was a child and deserves to be remembered through dignity.”
Lyle leaves behind family and friends, including his mother, father and two sisters.