Two student gunmen “got deep inside” the STEM School Highlands Ranch just outside Denver today and opened fire on high-school students on the K-12 campus.
The charter school has about 1,800 students spanning all the grades. Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said that eight students were wounded and the gunmen — an 18-year-old and a juvenile — were arrested unharmed. He told reporters that “the quick response of officers helped save lives” — about two minutes after the first call of gunshots was reported, just before 2 p.m.
Later, the Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook: “It is with extreme sadness that we can confirm that 1 student at the STEM School was killed in today’s #stemshooting incident. The immediate family has been notified, but we do not know if the extended family knows yet. The Douglas County Coroner Jill Romann has not officially identified the victim, but is stating it’s an 18 year old male.”
Authorities confirmed that none of the wounded were below 15 years of age. Neither of the gunmen were known to be previously on the radar of law enforcement, the sheriff said.
Local media identified the 18-year-old gunman as Devon Erickson, whose parents’ house was surrounded by crime scene tape this evening. After his name, photos and social media posts began circulating, the Sheriff’s Office tweeted confirmation: “Adult suspect has been identified as Devon Erickson, age 18. We will not be releasing any photos at this time as it could jeopardize this critical on-going invest. We still have interviews to conduct and we want to make sure we have the most accurate information.”
Spurlock told reporters earlier that “we know that two individuals walked into the STEM School, got deep into the school, and engaged students in two separate locations.”
Police did not elaborate on their weapons but dispatch audio as the scene unfolded indicated there was a 9mm handgun with “lots of ammo” on one of the suspects.
Fernando Montoya told Denver’s Channel 7 that his 17-year-old son, who was shot three times but was expected to be released later in the day, told him he was in a classroom when one of the gunmen began firing but he didn’t believe he was personally targeted by the shooter.
The father of student Brendan Bialy, who is credited with tackling a shooter, told the New York Times that his son saw “two students entered the classroom and one pulled a gun out of a guitar case.”
April 20 was the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, just eight miles away from the STEM School.
The Sheriff’s Office planned to work through the night and give another update on the case Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. local time.