The Park County Sheriff said information from federal partners indicated the suspect enjoyed camping in mountains, which helped narrow the search.
BAILEY, Colo. — A cell phone “ping” and information that the suspect in the shooting at Denver’s East High School had previously camped in Colorado’s high country helped law enforcement track him down, the Park County Sheriff said Thursday.
New surveillance video obtained by 9NEWS showed Austin Lyle’s 2005 red Volvo XC90 driving on County Road 68 in Bailey, Colo. just before 11 o’clock Wednesday morning, a little more than an hour after police said he shot two administrators at his school.
An officer spotted the car parked in a turnoff about two miles up the road around 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, Sheriff Tom McGraw said. “It was luck and good law enforcement work,” he said. “We had intelligence that the individual was heavily involved in camping and the outdoors. We did not have specific information that he had been at this trailhead before.”
Officers waited to search the Volvo until a Jefferson County SWAT unit arrived with an armored vehicle, McGraw said. Once they determined no one was inside the car, two five-person tactical teams with K-9s began to search the steep terrain alongside it.
“The SWAT team is not out on a hike. They had their guns out, they’re watching, they’re being cautious,” McGraw said.
He said a K-9 found the suspect’s scent and officers soon found fresh tracks in the snow. About an hour after they searched the Volvo, the tactical team found the suspect dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound about 350 yards up the hill, McGraw said.
“We would much rather have had him walk out of the woods and be put in handcuffs and taken down to the jail. That would’ve been the best outcome,” McGraw said. “Unfortunately that’s not the way it turned out.”
The Park County coroner said a final autopsy report could take months to complete. McGraw said Denver Police towed the suspect’s vehicle back to the city for processing late Wednesday night.
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