By Keith Coffman
CASTLEROCK, Colo. (Reuters) – Two teenagers accused of fatally shooting a classmate and wounding eight others at a Denver-area high school last week were charged with murder and attempted murder on Wednesday.
Devon Erickson, 18, and Alec McKinney, 16, are accused of opening fire on fellow students in two classrooms at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) charter school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on May 7. McKinney, who identifies as male, was listed on the court docket as Maya Elizabeth McKinney.
Douglas County District Judge Theresa Slade has put the charges along with the entire case file under seal, banning the public from seeing it. Both teenagers were each facing a range of charges including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, arson and theft.
McKinney was charged as an adult, prosecutors said.
Both Erickson and McKinney were being held without bond.
Denver’s ABC affiliate television station has reported that the two pistols used in the attack were stolen from the home of Erickson, whose parents had purchased the guns legally. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment.
Kendrick Castillo, 18, was shot dead three days before graduation, when he and two other students charged the shooters in an effort to disarm them, authorities said.
Castillo, a robotics enthusiast and aspiring engineer, was remembered as a compassionate, bright young man during a memorial service on Wednesday at a church in Highlands Ranch.
“If I had to describe him a certain way, the first it would be love, the love for anybody that he met,” his father John Castillo said during the service. “We all really, really love Kendrick, but to carry on his life’s message, we need to be more like him.”
The attack occurred less than a month after the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in nearby Littleton, in which two students shot 13 people to death before committing suicide.
Five months ago, a school district official urged the STEM school’s director to investigate allegations of student bullying and violence by a parent who feared they could lead to the next “Columbine.” The director said an investigation found no evidence to support the allegations.
The STEM school had no sworn police officer at the 1,850-student campus, after a dispute with the sheriff’s office over the previous school resource officer’s role ended that relationship last year, the school said last week.
Instead, a private security company was hired to patrol the campus that included students from kindergarten through high school. An armed security guard responded to last week’s shooting.
ABC News, citing an unnamed law enforcement official, reported last week that the security guard may have mistakenly fired on sheriff’s deputies called to the scene and wounded a student in the chaos.
The Douglas County District Attorney’s office said on Wednesday it had turned over the investigation into the security guard’s actions to a special prosecutor from neighbouring El Paso County.
A spokeswoman for El Paso County District Attorney Dan May confirmed that they are investigating the incident involving the security guard.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman; editing by Bill Tarrant, Leslie Adler and Bill Berkrot)