The principal of Aurora West College Preparatory Academy waited over an hour to report a staffer had a gun on campus, according to an audit of the school’s and law enforcement’s reaction to the incident on April 3.
The “After Action Report” provided to 9NEWS and confirmed by Aurora Public Schools as being official paints a picture of a frantic day punctuated by a systemic failure to follow established protocol and, in some cases, staff were faced with a lack of any kind of protocol for the incident.
Aurora West is a 6-12 public school in the Aurora Public School District.
The report details the incident through a timeline of events, providing more information than ever before about the happenings at Aurora West as law enforcement frantically searched for Tushar Rae, the school’s dean.
Rae got to Aurora West Prep at 12:30 p.m. on April 3. The report says he came in the southeast entrance.
At 1:03 p.m., Rae and Tselolikhin enter the media center. Their conversation, according to arrest documents for Rae, included Rae threatening Tselolikhin. He placed a gun on a table between them and warned the principal not to mess with him.
"You shouldn't have said what you said,” the affidavit quotes Rae as saying. “I don't want to hurt you. I'm going to hurt all the people around you." He then threatened to shoot the kneecaps off of two staffers at the school.
After that, he asked her what she was going to do about his plans, the affidavit says, adding a warning that he’d brought two extra rounds — it was not explained if he meant those rounds were for himself and Tselolikhin.
He told her he’d shoot the next person he found outside his office unless she walked away. At that moment, the affidavit says, there was a knock at the media center door. Two students then briefly spoke with Rae before leaving.
According to the After Action Report, Tselolikhin left the media center about an hour after entering. Rae left around that time, the report says, possibly with another student.
Instead of reporting the interaction to Aurora Public Schools safety office, Tselolikhin went to the front office to begin work on the master schedule at 2 p.m.
It wasn’t until 3:07 p.m. — over two hours passed the initial conversation with Rae — that Tselolikhin told the Aurora Public Schools safety office.
According to the dispatcher’s notes, the report says Tselolikhin told staffers Rae was in the nurse’s office or media center, had a black gun and is agitated and/or having a bad day at work. There was no mention of the threat to shoot staffers in the report.
The dispatcher told Tselolikhin to place the school on “lockout” or “secure perimeter” at 3:09 p.m. but she refused. Secure perimeter is separate from a school “lockdown.” During “secure perimeter,” no one is allowed into or out of the school, but operations continue as normal inside. A lockdown is when students hide in their rooms with the light off and door locked due to an active threat.
Tselolikhin told the dispatcher she would not place the school on secure perimeter because she did not want “to make a scene,” the report says.
At 3:10 p.m., campus security officers were dispatched to Aurora West.
At 3:11 p.m., the dispatcher updated their notes to say the school was on secure perimeter.
At 3:12 p.m., Tselolikhin told the dispatcher she was “100% sure that he has a gun.”
Between 3:15 and 3:27 p.m., Greg Cazzell, Aurora Public Schools Safety and Security director and Incident Response Team operation liaison, left the security office for Aurora West Prep. While en route he called Anthony Sturges, the chief operating office and Incident Response Team commander, to tell him of the situation.
At 3:16 p.m., the first two campus security officers arrive and meet with Tselolikhin. The pair begins searching for Rae, whose whereabouts are unknown at this point. He is still on campus.
At 3:22 p.m., district security sent out an alert that Aurora West Prep was on secure perimeter over School Messenger.
Between 3:22 and 3:24 p.m., security camera footage viewed after the fact shows Rae walking through the parking lot and entering his vehicle. The report says no one was aware of this until after the incident.
At the same time, the Aurora Police Department was notified of the incident.
At 3:25 p.m., the public announcement is made that Aurora West Prep is on secure perimeter.
At 3:27 p.m., Cazzell and officers with the Police Department arrived at Aurora West. The announcement is made at the same time to Aurora West Prep that it is going on lockdown.
Six minutes later, officers with APD start searching the parking lot for Tushar Rae.
At 3:45 p.m., Aurora Public Schools communications sent out the alert to parents that Aurora West is on lockdown.
At 3:48 p.m., APD starts searching the building for Rae. It is at that time that security decides to deactivate Rae’s security card that allows him to freely travel inside Aurora West Prep. Staffers also contacted IT to have them turn off IT systems access, the report says.
At 3:54 p.m., the dispatcher updates the status of their notes to show Aurora West is on lockdown.
At 3:55 p.m., Aurora Public Schools communications then sent a notification via School Messenger that Aurora West was on lockdown.
At 4:05 p.m., APD began to clear classrooms during their search for Rae.
At 4:08 p.m., the Denver Police Department got in touch with the Aurora Police Department to say Rae was in custody. At the same time, Aurora Public Schools and Aurora PD decide to release students on a timed-release schedule.
By 4:15 p.m., IT has deactivated computer, email and Infinite Campus access.
At 4:17 p.m., APD tweeted that the suspect in the Aurora West situation was in custody and that lockdown was being lifted.
Eight minutes later, the “lockdown” is downgraded to a “lockout.”
At 4:30 p.m., Aurora Public Schools send out another message to parents and guardians that lockdown was lifted and provided information to parents that “there was an investigation of a possible threat with rumors of an armed individual in the area, but APD did not find an armed individual.” According to the report, teachers at Aurora West later admitted they were displeased with that announcement from the district, as it was not true and caused their students to mistrust them after the incident.
Just before 5 p.m., the lockout was lifted and Aurora Public Schools security sent out an all-clear notification via School Messenger.
At 7:30 p.m., there was a second Incident Response Team meeting. During the meeting, members discussed the situation, compiled available info, established a crisis support plan and drafted communications.
At 8:10 p.m., Aurora Public Schools sent out talking points to all Aurora West Prep staff for teachers to share with students the morning of April 4.
At 8:30 p.m., after receiving the talking points, Tselolikhin updated the assistant principals on the fact that Rae was the suspect taken into custody by DPD.
At 7:40 a.m. on April 4 — the day after Rae came to school with a gun, according to the report — Aurora West Prep held an all-staff meeting to discuss the talking points provided by the district.
At 9 a.m., Tselolikhin held a meeting with Aurora West Prep administration and campus monitors to tell them Rae was the suspect in the incident.
Just before noon, the District Attorney’s Office shared the arrest affidavit for Rae with Aurora Public Schools. This is the first time the district learns the charges facing Rae, which included at the time unlawfully carrying a weapon at a school and unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon, the report says. This is also the first time the district sees the names of Rae’s potential victims. The DA also asked the district to redact sensitive information from the affidavit.
Between noon and 5 p.m., the report says the district placed Rae on administrative leave. Rae was Aurora West Preparatory College's dean of instruction, serving students in grades 9 - 12, according to the school's website.
By 5:50 p.m., Aurora Public Schools information staff, parents and guardians that a staffer was arrested based on “alleged threats to staff members and has been placed on administrative leave,” adding that no other information will be released because of the law enforcement investigation.
Ten minutes later, the report cites a media story about the incident saying a dean at Aurora West was arrested, naming Rae as the suspect. Because this story came out only 10 minutes after APS told parents they couldn’t tell them anything more, some parents are upset at the lack of information an apparent obfuscating of details on the part of the district, the report says. The district must comply with law enforcement commands when it comes to releasing information, the report adds, so as not to jeopardize any ongoing investigation.
Sometime after 6 p.m., Tselolikhin told both staffers at Aurora West Prep Rae threatened that they were potential targets.
During the morning hours, the report says Tselolkhin held a staff meeting to tell Aurora West Prep employees it was Rae who was arrested.
During the evening hours, a meeting is held with Tselolikhin and other representatives from the district to answer any questions staff might have about what happened on April 3.
Tselolikhin was placed on leave less than a week after the incident and resigned on April 22, 9NEWS has learned.
ARRESTED IN DENVER TWICE, CHARGED IN ARAPAHOE AND DENVER COUNTIES
Rae was arrested in Denver on April 3 for the Aurora West Prep incident and posted bond a week later. He has been formally charged with two counts of attempted assault with a deadly weapon, one count of possession of a weapon on school grounds and carrying a concealed weapon in Arapahoe County. His preliminary court date is set for June 4 there.
On April 12, Rae was in court again, but this time after being taken into custody again in Denver on charges this time unrelated to the April 3 school incident. In Denver, he’s been formally charged with felony menacing and kidnapping related to a pair of domestic violence incidents with the same victim in Denver County.
One incident involved the same gun used to threaten Tselolikhin at Aurora West Prep, according to the affidavit. The other involved false imprisonment and was not resolved until the Denver Police Department showed up.
According to the Denver affidavit, Rae and the victim attended a work function on March 1 where they went to an escape room and then later a bar — where Rae shared marijuana edibles. The affidavit says they then returned to Rae's home.
Rae felt depressed later that evening when the victim wanted to leave, the affidavit says. He then pulled out a black Remington — the victim told investigators it was the same weapon brought to Aurora West — and pointed it at her chest, according to the affidavit. Then he moved the gun just to the side of her and the victim heard it go off, the arrest affidavit says.
The victim then fled and told investigators she didn't report the incident for a redacted reason and because she did not want Rae to kill himself. According to the affidavit, Rae told the victim that if he killed himself it would be her fault.
Then, on March 7, the victim told investigators she was on her way to another work function when she stopped at Rae's house. According to the affidavit, Rae was feeling sorry for himself and was depressed when she wanted to leave. The victim invited Rae along, but instead, he told her not to leave and would not let her leave, the affidavit says.
According to the arrest report, the victim eventually had to call police after Rae grabbed her arm and threw her down on the couch. DPD showed up to Rae's house and he let the victim leave. Officers reported there had been a verbal argument and that they'd advised both parties.
Rae is next due in Denver court for his preliminary hearing on May 28.
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