Stop harassing Arapahoe High shooting first responder James Englert, sheriff tells media
Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson announced his retirement the day before the shooting at Arapahoe High School. But rather than letting someone else run point, he took charge, communicating clearly and authoritatively in a manner that has earned him excellent reviews despite the tragic situation. But while he's gone out of the way to be accessible to the media, he's drawn a line when it comes to deputy and brave first responder James Englert, seen here -- and he blistered members of the press who didn't respect it.
The photo of Englert comes the website of the International Police Mountain Bike Association, which lists him as the organization's industry liaison. The mini-bio that accompanies the shot notes fifteen years in the public safety profession, with eight years of bike duty. Here's his description of his most memorable moment: "Another deputy and I were riding down some rocks, the other deputy fell on some rocks and severed 30 percent of his quad tendon."
Unfortunately, the scene he came upon early Friday afternoon as part of his responsibilities as school resource officer at Arapahoe High was considerably more horrifying. According to a Denver Post account, Englert told dispatchers, "The school is going on lockdown, and I don't know why," then charged into the building.
"There's smoke, north side of the school!" he yelled while running through the halls a moment later. "There's a fire in the library! Come to the forum! It's on the north side."
Sheriff Grayson Robinson, right, with Littleton School District Superintendent Scott Murphy at a Friday press conference.
And then, an even more shocking discovery: "There is a student down in the athletic hall."
That student was Claire Davis, seventeen, who is listed as being in critical but stable condition and in a coma at this writing. Yet she might not have survived at all were it not for Englert's quick response -- one of many lessons learned from the Columbine massacre in 1999.
Given Englert's role, plenty of news outlets wanted to speak with him. However, Robinson declined to make him available for comment owing to the ongoing investigation -- at least not yet.
A number of reporters didn't feel like waiting, thought, tracking down Englert at his home. But instead of getting a scoop, they received an earful from Robinson. In a strongly worded release sent to the media as a whole, as opposed to specific outlets, Robinson described the effort as a violation of Englert's privacy rights, not to mention being "offensive." And that was before Robinson busted out the caps-lock key.
When Robinson says something, he means it. Here's his complete statement regarding Englert:
During the press briefing related to the tragic Arapahoe High School shooting conducted on December 14, 2013 at 3:15 PM, I clearly advised that Deputy Sheriff James Englert (Arapahoe High School Resource Officer) was not available for interview and would not be made available in the immediate future. My decision to not make the deputy available for interview was based upon his direct and critical involvement in the ongoing investigation, as well as the fact that his involvement in the critical incident required that his privacy be respected.
Earlier today, representatives of the Denver media contacted the Deputy at his private residence, while the Deputy was not on duty and in his private capacity. The effort to contact the Deputy is in direct conflict with my specific request. In my opinion, the effort to contact the Deputy is offensive and violates his right to privacy.
Deputy James Englert is not available for interview and does not wish to be contacted by representatives of the media. As I have advised, at some point in time the Deputy may be available for an interview. NOW IS NOT THE TIME.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Arapahoe High School shooting: Lessons from Columbine."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.