At least 2 hand­guns used in school shoot­ing near Columbine

Of­fi­cials say stu­dents walked in the school and opened fire in two class­rooms


Two Colorado high school stu­dents used at least two hand­guns to at­tack the char­ter school they at­tended, killing one of their class­mates and wound­ing eight others in an assault near Columbine High School, au­thor­i­ties said Wed­nes­day.

That Tues­day af­ter­noon’s at­tack at STEM School High­lands Ranch hap­pened just miles from Columbine and just weeks after the 20th an­niver­sary of the shoot­ing there was sure to raise ques­tions about whether it was in­spired by the 1999 mas­sacre. But the an­swer was not im­me­di­ately clear.

Dou­glas County sher­iff ’s of­fi­cials said 18-year-old Devon Erick­son and a younger stu­dent who is a ju­ve­nile and was not iden­ti­fied walked into the STEM School High­lands Ranch through an en­trance with­out metal de­tec­tors and opened fire in two class­rooms.

Sher­iff Tony Spur­lock told re­porters that the sus­pects had a “num­ber of weapons,” in­clud­ing two hand­guns they were not old enough to buy or own.

Au­thor­i­ties on Tues­day iden­ti­fied the ju­ve­nile sus­pect as a boy, but Spur­lock on Wed­nes­day told re­porters that the sus­pect is a girl.

“We orig­i­nally thought the ju­ve­nile was a male by ap­pear­ance,” Spur­lock said.

He de­clined to com­ment when asked by re­porters if the per­son is trans­gen­der.

Tele­vi­sion sta­tion KMGH re­ported late Tues­day that the ju­ve­nile sus­pect is a trans­gen­der male in the process of tran­si­tion­ing from fe­male to male. The sta­tion cited anony­mous sources close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The stu­dent who was killed was 18-year-old Ken­drick Castillo, au­thor­i­ties said.

Stu­dent Nui Gi­a­solli told NBC’s To­day show that she was in her Bri­tish lit­er­a­ture class when Erick­son came in late and pulled out a gun.

Castillo lunged at the gun­man, who shot the teen. Castillo’s ac­tions gave the rest of the class time to get un­der­neath their desks and then run across the room to es­cape to safety, Gi­a­solli said.

Rachel Short said Castillo was a funny and em­pa­thetic per­son who loved others and was a part-time em­ployee at her man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany, Bacara USA.

“To find he went down as a hero, I’m not sur­prised. That’s ex­actly who Ken­drick was,” Short said.

Ce­cilia Bedard, 19, knew Castillo since ele­men­tary school and said he was al­ways friendly, mod­est and ex­cited to help peo­ple. He made a point of al­ways join­ing his fa­ther at Knights of Colum­bus fundraisers and bingo nights.

“He was amaz­ing,” Bedard said. “He was hon­estly the sweet­est kid I ever met. Never said a mean joke.”

Both sus­pects were stu­dents at the school, and they were not pre­vi­ously known to au­thor­i­ties, Spur­lock said.

Josh Dut­ton, 18, said he was close friends with Erick­son in mid­dle school but had not seen him for four years as he at­tended a dif­fer­ent high school. On Sun­day, he spot­ted Erick­son at a lo­cal light rail sta­tion and said he was shocked at how much his friend had changed.

Erick­son wore all black, a hat and sun­glasses, was sig­nif­i­cantly thin­ner and did not seem in­ter­ested in talk­ing.

“He said he’d just turned 18 and he owned ri­fles,” Dut­ton said.

A mes­sage left at a phone num­ber listed for Erick­son’s home was not im­me­di­ately re­turned. He was sched­uled to make an ini­tial court ap­pear­ance later Wed­nes­day.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear when the younger sus­pect, who has not been iden­ti­fied, would ap­pear in court.

The shoot­ing took place ex­actly a week after a gun­man killed two stu­dents and wounded four at the Uni­ver­sity of North Carolina-Char­lotte.

It also came nearly three weeks after neigh­bour­ing Lit­tle­ton marked the an­niver­sary of the Columbine at­tack that killed 13 peo­ple. The two schools are sep­a­rated by about 11 kilo­me­tres in ad­ja­cent com­mu­ni­ties south of Den­ver. The Associated Press


A bou­quet of flow­ers is left next to the en­trance to the STEM School High­lands Ranch on Wed­nes­day in High­lands Ranch, Colo., one day after two stu­dents en­tered the school with pis­tols, killing one stu­dent and in­jur­ing eight others.

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