Accused attacker in Colorado STEM school shooting says students targeted had mocked gender identity
A student accused in the deadly shooting at a Colorado STEM high school told police he intended to target classmates who mocked his gender identity and how he loaded up on cocaine ahead of the bloody attack, which he said he’d been planning for weeks.
The latest details on the violent incident at the STEM School Highlands Ranch were revealed Thursday in newly-released summaries of police interviews with the two alleged shooters, 16-year-old Alex McKinney, the suspected mastermind, and 18-year-old Devon Erickson.
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Erickson during a police interview recalled how he received a Snapchat message from McKinney on May 6 warning him against going to school the following day. McKinney, who identifies as male, said he wanted to revenge “on a lot of people,” who called him “disgusting” and referred to him “as a she,” the younger suspect told authorities.
McKinney “said he wanted the kids at school to suffer from trauma like he had had in his life,” according to documents. “He wanted everyone in that school to suffer and realize that the world is a bad place.”
Police said both teenagers walked into the Douglas County high school on May 7 with a guitar case and book bag containing four guns — three handguns and rifle. Both suspects told authorities they broke into a gun safe at one of their homes, where they also did cocaine.
From there, they drove to Highlands Ranch and entered through the middle school because McKinney “knew they would not be checked,” according to the report. They targeted a class near the entrance because “all of the kids they hated” would be there, according the affidavit.
Their accounts of what unfolded during the attack differ slightly — McKinney said “he shot the revolver until it was empty and then shot the Glock until it was empty” before getting tackled by a teacher and a student. He managed to flee with the intention of killing himself but instead surrendered to a security officer in the hallway.
Student Kendrick Castillo was killed in the shooting while he and two others took down one of the shooters. Another eight people were injured.
Erickson in his interview said he saw McKinney reach for a gun after they both entered a classroom through separate doors. He recalled two students charge at their assailant and he said the impact “prompted the gun to go off.”
“While he was on the ground he heard more gunshots and yelling and screaming,” according to the documents. “Devon described being in a shock and stated he didn’t want anyone to get shot.”
Erickson also told investigators the ring leader of the shooting was McKinney, who suggested he help by loading the guns, locking the door of the classroom and firing the first shot.
Police said Erickson “couldn’t articulate how or why he never told an adult.”
According to the affidavit, MKinney “told Devon he would let him live if Devon told everyone to stay still [during the shooting] and if he watched the second door.”
Both teens were arrested immediately after the May 7 attack. Erickson and McKinney — who has been charged as an adult — face 48 criminal charges, including first-degree murder, arson and theft.
The documents additionally reveal a school security guard responding to the gunfire accidentally shot a female student. According the record, several officers reported that the guard also twice fired at a Douglas County Sheriff’s lieutenant.
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