Denver, Colorado was rocked this week by another school shooting. The STEM School in Highlands Ranch was the location of the shooting, when two suspects entered the school and opened fire. The school is a K-12 facility, with the shootings occurring in the middle school section of the building.
During the afternoon on May 7th, around 2 p.m., Devon Michael Erickson, 18, and Alec McKinney, 16, entered the school. They used the middle school door, as it did not have metal detectors. The made their way further into the school and entered a classroom.
One student in the classroom, Kendrick Castillo, 18, attempted to subdue Erickson, but was shot. More students rushed to assist Castillo as more shots were fired. The presence of the two suspects had already instigated a call to police, who were quick to arrive on the scene. Holly Nicholson-Kluth, a local Undersheriff who was part of the response team, reported hearing gunshots as police arrived.
When police reached the suspects, one had already been subdued and restrained. Both were apprehended without exchanging gunfire with authorities.
Unfortunately, Kendrick Castillo’s injuries were fatal. He was expected to graduate just three days later. Of the other eight students, five had been released from the hospital by the following morning, while three remained in intensive care. All of the victims were over the age of 15.
According to authorities, the suspects carried two handguns. Investigators reported that Erickson had taken his parents guns without their knowledge. His parents had legally purchased the guns. It is unknown what the motive behind the shootings was.
Erickson and McKinney face multiple charges, 48 in total, to include murder in the first degree, arson, possession of weapons on school property and theft. McKinney will be facing these charges as an adult.
The STEM School is located around eight miles from Columbine High School, notable for the mass shooting that occurred there in 1999. This current shooting adds to the list of active shooter incidents that have occurred in Colorado since the Columbine shooting.
Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis stated on Twitter, “We are making all of our public safety resources available to assist the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department in their effort to secure the site and evacuate the students. We are monitoring the situation in real time. The heart of all Colorado is with the victims & their families.”
Officials at the White House also spoke out in regard to the shooting. “Our prayers are with the victims, family members, and all those affected by today’s shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Littleton, Colorado. Tragically, this community and those surrounding it know all too well these hateful and horrible acts of violence. The White House has been in communication with state and local officials, and the President has been briefed and continues to monitor the ongoing situation. We offer our full support to local law enforcement and first responders and thank them for their heroism.”