STEM School Highlands Ranch Shooting


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Maggie Wong, Staff Writer

For most students in the United States, the month of May is a time for celebration, as the school year winds down and graduation nears.

For students at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, however, the month is quickly becoming one of tragedy.

18-year-old Devon Erickson and a classmate, unnamed because she is a minor, opened fire in an English classroom of the school on Tuesday, May 7. The motive, as of writing, is unclear. 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo immediately rushed and tackled one of the shooters. Three of his classmates joined him, allowing the other students to run out of the door to safety. Kendrick was shot and killed by the gunman, but his heroic efforts saved the lives of all those who were in the classroom with him on Tuesday. In an interview with CNN, John Castillo, father of Kendrick, said that he “thank[s] God” that Castillo immediately thought to help others, because he “raised him to be good”, but a part of him “wishes he just turned and ran, retreated, hid.” But Castillo knew that it wasn’t in Kendrick’s nature to not intervene, because he “wasn’t your average kid… He was extraordinary.”

18-year-old Marine hopeful Brendan Blaly has also been credited as one of the students who helped subdue one of the shooters.

Deputies responded to the situation within two minutes of occurrence. One of the school’s private security guards, an unnamed former Marine, was able to take one of the shooters into custody and turn them over to authorities. The total casualty count, as of writing, is one fatality and eight injuries. Most of the students have been discharged from the hospital already and those who haven’t yet are in fair condition.

Suspect Erickson is being held on suspicion of one count of first-degree murder and 29 counts of attempted first-degree murder. His first court appearance was Wednesday, May 8, and formal charges have not yet been filed. He is due to return to court on Friday. It has not been confirmed whether or not the second suspect will have a court appearance.

The community is in mourning, with the atrocity hitting especially hard as the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting just passed on Apr. 20. District Attorney George Brauchler is in shock that “in 20 years, in 20 miles, [the community has] dealt with Columbine, Aurora theater, Arapahoe High School, [and] the shooting of Zack Parrish and four other deputies” but remains hopeful that the community will recover, resilient as they have always been.

Photo courtesy of TIME.COM