Sheriff says school shooting probe nearly done

Outside entity will review findings, recommend fixes

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When former Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson announced his retirement on Dec. 12, he endorsed then-Undersheriff David Walcher as his replacement.

Walcher could never have imagined he'd end up in charge of investigating a school shooting that happened the very next day, but he's no stranger to the task.

“When the seas are calm, it's easy to pilot the boat,” he said during an interview at his office on May 7. “I hate stuff like this, but the reality is that we have to deal with it. I've been through this before, and I'm trying to do absolutely the right thing for Claire Davis and her family. I have a strong level of commitment to the Davis family.”

Davis was fatally shot by fellow student Karl Pierson at Arapahoe High School on Dec. 13.

Prior to being recruited to Arapahoe County by Robinson in 2009, Walcher was a division chief in Jefferson County, where he'd worked since 1988. There he faced the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999, and the Platte Canyon High School hostage crisis in 2006 that ended in the death of 16-year-old Emily Keyes.

“I'll be honest with you, I'm tired of all this,” he said.

Walcher, who became sheriff in January, said the investigation into the Arapahoe High shooting is winding down, but he wouldn't narrow a time frame down to days or even weeks. When it's done, he said, he'll either issue a news release or hold a press conference, then begin to accept requests for information from the media.

“There isn't going to be a report per se,” he said.

More important to him, he said, is a plan in the works for an outside, independent review of what led up to the day of the shooting and what can be done to prevent such an act from happening again. He'd like a panel made up of law enforcement, mental-health professionals, educators, “as many experts as necessary to look at this in its totality and in the long term,” he said.

Walcher said he was very proud of how the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office handled the response to the tragedy, including Deputy James Englert, the school resource officer who was the first armed officer at the scene.

“But if we can learn something, if we can do better next time, we should,” he said.