Students, friends honor 2 East High School deans involved in shooting

DENVER (KDVR) — Students and staff shared how Wednesday’s East High School shooting victims, Deans Eric Sinclair and Jerald Mason, have made a difference in many people’s lives on a daily basis.

“They are some truly special people in their community,” sophomore Ben Parrish said. “My heart truly sank because I think they’ve made a huge impact on the students at our school.”

While returning to pick up his backpack at East High School Thursday, Parrish talked to FOX31 about the moments and conversations he recently had with both Sinclair and Mason. 

“A couple of weeks ago, I had a nice conversation with Mr. Sinclair over the issue of SROs in schools and he was very much for the issue,” Parrish said. “It’s just something to remember. It’s just something that stands out in my mind.”

A former student, Ballard Kauffman, learned about what happened while studying abroad in Cape Town. He immediately thought about the impact Sinclair had on him when the former student council member worked to get more bike racks at East.

“Sinclair was one of the first people I met with, and he helped me, encourage me, help find a solution, help to find a way that we could make that possible,” Kauffman said. “You know, six, seven years later, it still sticks with me.”

East High School’s former dean of students, Rudy Villarreal, said he was moved to tears when he learned Sinclair, who he trained to replace him, was one of the victims.

“Eric is a fine young man, good father everything about him,” Villarreal said. “He was always looking to get better. He was fair. He was honest, He was sincere, who was dependable, well respected.”

Coach Randy Gallegos, the head wrestling coach at Denver East High School, said he is good friends with both Mason and Sinclair. When he realized they were the victims, he rushed to Denver Health to see them. While Sinclair was in surgery, Gallegos had the opportunity to see Mason smiling in a hospital bed.

“He seemed very, very upbeat. He was actually laughing and he had his family with him,” Gallegos said. “He was very emotional about how he tried to try to help Mr. Sinclair And he was just it was very touching.”

Parrish said Mason had the ability to touch students’ hearts with his smile each day as they walked through the door.

“He’s got this warm, cheerful expression on his face, and I love his beard. It’s just fantastic,” Parrish said. 

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