Denver police issued a statement Wednesday after officers searched a charter school last month trying to find an attempted-murder suspect that they say was likely a student there.
Their statement came out before a response from DPS calling the Police Department's actions perturbing.
Members of the Denver Police Department - with Denver Public Schools Safety and Security's OK - entered RiseUp Community School in downtown Denver on April 24 to search for a suspect from an incident that occurred in Lakewood the night before, according to the news release from DPD.
Denver police said based on the information they received, they believed the suspect might be in the school during its regular classroom hours -- and posed a potential threat to the students and staff there.
Officers set up a perimeter outside the school to make sure the suspect couldn't escape. Then they got confirmation, officers said, that the suspect was in the school. The information from staff and the nature of the allegations meant officers didn't need a search warrant for the school, the police department said.
In a statement also sent to 9NEWS Wednesday night, DPS disagreed - the principal reportedly told officers the suspect was not in the school.
According to their statement, the Police Department called DPS to tell them they were surrounding the school and that a shooting suspect was inside. DPS' safety staff took this to mean an armed student was in the school. Alarmed, several district safety officers responded, including the Chief of Safety for the district, Michael Eaton.
The statement went on to say that the school's principal, Lucas Ketzer, told Eaton that the police department didn't make it seem like there was an imminent threat and that he told DPD the student they were seeking wasn't at the school.
Ketzer told 9NEWS the school's policy when police would like to speak to a student is to ask that student if they would like to talk. If they said "yes," they'd be taken to a private area to talk.
If they said "no," then the school asks the officers to leave their information and the student is encouraged by staff to contact law enforcement.
Ketzer checked the school for the student and couldn't find him - letting officers know.
In the end, Eaton decided to allow DPD to search the school out of an abundance of caution, the DPS statement said. After talking with Ketzer beforehand, officers swept the school but didn't find the suspect.
"They made our school feel so unsafe," said RiseUp senior Mary Jimenez. She told 9NEWS police did not treat the students there with respect and that a lot of students were left feeling like police disrespected the school's peaceful environment.
DPD met with RiseUp's principal after the incident to try and figure out the best way to handle situations like that in the future.
No information was publicly made available about the incident at the time.
DPS said that they understand the situation was extremely traumatic for students, staff and other members of the RiseUp family. Students and staff describe the school as very diverse. RiseUp is located at 2342 Broadway in downtown Denver.
Alex Renteria, the manager of media relations for the district, said DPS was perturbed by the version of events given by students and staff at the school.
"As a diverse and inclusive school district, we are deeply aware that experiences with and perceptions of law enforcement have a profound impact on our city, particularly in our communities of color," Renteria wrote to 9NEWS.
Two teachers had run-ins with DPD when they came inside the school, Ketzer said.
"She said you can come back when you have a warrant [to the officers]," he said. "They pushed her out of the way and went into her classroom."
That version of events has been corroborated by several students and members of staff, the principal said. DPD did not mention that altercation when they first put out a statement about the sweep. Nor did they mention what allegedly happened to another teacher.
"One of our staff members, who is on our student support team, automatically went to open the back door to make sure none of our students were out there," Ketzer said. "When she opened the back door that's when three DPD officers drew their guns on her."
DPD, in their release, said no officers drew their guns on students or staff inside the school.
DPS spokesperson Renteria said the district would continue to work with law enforcement, students, staff and their community partners to ensure policy protects the safety and dignity of everyone involved in incidents like this.
The suspect was arrested on April 30 by the Lakewood Police Department.
9NEWS is working to collect photos and videos taken during the sweep of the school and has requested DPD's body camera footage from the incident.