Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler lived in a home in Highlands Ranch for 18 years. His four children are in the Douglas County school system. His wife's business is roughly one mile from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office substation in Highlands Ranch.
He knows the area well. After all, he “grew up in these parts,” Brauchler, now a Parker resident, said.
And if someone had told him that within 20 miles and 20 years of tragedies including the Columbine High School shooting of 1999, the Aurora theater shooting (which Brauchler prosecuted) of 2012, and the Arapahoe High School shooting in 2013, there would be another fatal shooting in his community, he'd have thought they were "mad."
“Yet, here we are again,” he said May 8.
One more school shooting was the reality as Brauchler spoke to media from the Highlands Ranch substation one day after two suspected student shooters entered STEM School Highlands Ranch and allegedly opened fire on their classmates.
Eight students were injured. Three remained in the hospital as of the early morning hours of May 8. A ninth student had died May 7 of gunshot wounds inside the school building.
Brauchler asked the community to remember that the shooting would traumatize far more than the students and their families who would technically be classified as victims in the case.
The school comprises a student body of approximately 1,800 students. Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said at least 600 would “definitely” be affected because of their proximity to the shooting on school grounds when it began.
The next morning, more families were feeling the aftermath of the tragedy, Brauchler said.
“Moms and dads, looking at each other, making decisions about whether or not to send their kids to school in one of the greatest school districts in the country because they don't feel safe,” Brauchler said.
Gov. Jared Polis joined Brauchler, Spurlock and other leaders at a 6 a.m. news conference on May 8 to provide updates on the shooting. Polis called the state resilient but frustrated with the number of shootings that have occurred throughout Colorado's history.
“Yes, we come together in grief," Polis said. "We also come together to heal. And we come together to figure out what we can do better as a state and society."
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