Family of Colorado teen killed in 2006 hostage situation continue their push for school safety

Keyes Family developed SRP IN 2009

DENVER — Each school shooting has pushed many school districts and law enforcement agencies to review and improve our kids’ safety.

Crisis management has been the focus for one Colorado family since 2006. On September 27, 16-year-old Emily Keyes was taken hostage, and was shot and killed at Platte Canyon High School.

More than a decade later, and the nightmare is still real for the Keyes family.

The man who murdered their daughter entered Platte Canyon High School unchallenged. He held seven girls hostage before SWAT teams intervened. The man shot Emily as she tried to escape.

“While she was held hostage, Emily was able to send a text message, “I love u guys,” her dad, John-Michael Keyes, told Denver7.

Now, the Keyes want to make sure no family suffers the same loss.

They created the “I Love U Guys” foundation in January 2009, focused on creating action plans during emergency situations and against threats.

“I was looking for, 'what are the protocols that are common in the school environment?'” John-Michael said. “What we found was all over the map.”

The Keyes were eager to get some direction.

They found a local program that taught students and teachers to lockout, lock-down, and to evacuate.

“We took those three core actions and added a fourth, and that was shelter,” John-Michael said.

The Keyes call it the Standard Response Protocol. According to John-Michael, it is being implemented in more than 1,500 Colorado schools and 25,000 other schools and agencies across North America.        

The Keyes also want to make it harder for strangers to enter school grounds. The family has pushed the addition of secured vestibules.

Diana Wilson with Jefferson County Public Schools said the secured vestibules already exist at the district’s elementary and middle schools. Guests have to push a button and identify themselves before being allowed in.

“You get into the vestibule and then you have to go into the office and check-in,” Wilson explained.

John-Michael added, “70 percent of the time, in these active violence events, the perpetrator goes through the front door and into that main corridor.”

This is a barrier his daughter’s killer did not face in 2006.

“We've got, I think today, an obligation to continuously evaluate and evolve our materials,” John-Michael said. “And we're in a very unique position to do that.”

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