One high school senior is dead and eight more students injured after two suspects shot up two classrooms at the STEM School Highlands Ranch near Denver on Tuesday, May 7, Tony Spurlock, the Douglas County Sheriff, confirmed on Wednesday.
The school is located seven miles from Columbine High School, which just marked on April 20 the 20th anniversary of the massacre that killed 13 people and wounded even more.
The two suspects were apprehended, and one is 18-year-old Devon Erickson, officials have said. The second suspect is an underage female who was at first believed to be a male. Police did not comment on whether the second suspect is transgender, according to the Associated Press. But local news station KMGH reported that the second suspect is in the midst of transitioning.
Officials told reporters that the two suspects, who are students at STEM, walked into the school through an entrance that did not have metal detectors, then allegedly opened fire in two classrooms.
“He walked to the other side of the classroom where we also had another door, and he opened the door,” Nui Giasolli told the TODAY show of suspect Erickson coming in late for her British Lit class. “He walked back as if he was going to go back to his seat, then he walked back to the door and he closed it. The next thing I know, he’s pulling a gun and he’s telling nobody to move.”
Giselle said that students were able seek safety by running away and hiding under their desks when classmate Kendrick Castillo lunged at Erickson, who shot him. The 18-year-old’s father later confirmed that his son was the student who was killed.
Brad Bialy, whose son Brendan is a senior, told The New York Times that his son said the suspects entered his class and that one of them pulled a firearm from a guitar case. According to Bialy, Brendan and two friends then tried to tackle one of the suspects, and one of the boys was shot. His condition is not yet known, according to CNN.
Spurlock noted that the suspects had a “number of weapons,” including two handguns that they were not old enough to buy.
Police arrived within minutes and arrested the suspects, per the AP.
Josh Dutton, a former middle school pal of Ericsson’s, told the AP that he had run into the suspect just days ago. “He said he’d just turned 18 and he owned rifles,” Dutton recounted.
This is not the only recent scare for students in the Denver area. Prior to the 20th anniversary of Columbine, 18-year-old Sol Pais triggered a manhunt. The Florida teen, who was obsessed with the massacre, had made what officials deemed “credible threats,” leading to area schools shutting down. Pais was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Gov. Jared Polis released a statement after the shooting, saying, “The heart of all Colorado is with the victims and their families.”