Shooting in a Colorado school: 1 student killed, 8 wounded at Highlands Ranch; 2 suspects in custody
The deceased student has been identified by his family as 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo.
His father, John Castillo, says his son was a hero and he wants people to know how great a kid he was. He said through his tears, “I want people to know that.”
The eight surviving victims, aged just 15, have been taken to three different hospitals, and at least three of them have already been discharged.
The situation started just before 2 p.m. local time at STEM Highlands Ranch School, a charter school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, about 15 miles south of Denver. Administrators called police after hearing gunshots in the college, and Deputy Sheriff Holly Nicholson-Kluth said “several shots” were fired.
The two suspects, an 18-year-old man and a minor, are both believed to be students at the school. The local ABC affiliate in Colorado reports that they may have been motivated by anger and revenge as one of the suspects was in the process of moving from a woman to a man.
The sheriff identified the adult suspect as 18-year-old Devon Erickson. His photo has not been published.
#stemshooting One adult suspect has been identified as 18-year-old Devon Erickson. We will not be posting any photos at this time as it could jeopardize this ongoing critical investment. We still have some interviews to do and we want to make sure we have the most accurate information
– DC Sheriff (@dcsheriff) May 8, 2019
The two suspects entered campus and “walked into the back of the school” before opening fire into two separate classrooms at the high school, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said. First responders arrived at the scene and took the suspects into custody after a brief struggle. The suspects were not injured.
“I have to believe the quick response from the officers who entered this school helped save lives,” Spurlock said.
The officers “could still hear gunshots as they entered the school,” Nicholson-Kluth added.
Authorities have identified a car linked to the suspects and are obtaining warrants to search the car and the homes of the suspects.
Parent Fernando Montoya told ABC affiliate KMGH that her 17-year-old son was shot three times in a classroom. Montoya said his son’s friend was also shot and the gunman appeared to shoot indiscriminately and not target specific students.
At least one handgun has been recovered. Neither suspect is believed to have had prior contact with law enforcement, Spurlock said.
There is a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office substation just one block from campus; Nicholson-Kluth described the response as a “unified effort” comprising several agencies.
Federal FBI and ATF investigators respond to the scene. The FBI is handling the crime scene inside the school.
“We are making all of our public safety resources available to assist the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department in their efforts to secure the site and evacuate the students. We are monitoring the situation in real time. The heart of all of Colorado is with the victims and their families, ”Colorado Governor Jared Polis said in a statement.
The White House thanked local law enforcement and offered its support, saying in a statement: “Our prayers go out to the victims, family members and all those affected by the shooting today in STEM School Highlands Ranch in Littleton, Colo. Tragically, this community and those around it know all too well about these heinous and horrific acts of violence. The White House has been in communication with state and local authorities, and the President has been informed and continues to monitor the current situation. “
About 1,850 students are enrolled in the school. The campus is just a few miles from Columbine High School, the scene of a school shooting in 1999 where two students killed 12 other students and a teacher.
Police ordered parents to go to the nearby Northridge Recreation Center to pick up their children. The public was urged to avoid the area.
Other campuses in the Douglas County School District have been placed on lockdown due to law enforcement activities in the area, but the lockout has since been lifted. The district has canceled all extracurricular activities scheduled for May 7.
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