Multiple students injured, one killed in shooting at STEM School in Highlands Ranch

Two suspects are in custody

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Eight students were wounded and one was killed in a shooting at STEM High School in Highlands Ranch on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 7, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. The two suspects were in custody.

One of the students that was taken to an area hospital in critical condition, died later that day.

Douglas County Coroner Jill Roman identified the deceased victim the morning of May 8 as Kendrick Ray Castillo, 18.

Deputies responded to the school at 8773 S. Ridgeline Blvd. shortly before 2 p.m. , May 7.

At a press conference shortly before 5 p.m., Sheriff Tony Spurlock said several of the victims were in critical condition. 

"This is a terrible event that nobody wants to have happen in their community," Spurlock said. 

The sheriff said deputies were on scene within two minutes of the initial call.

"I have to believe that the quick response of our officers likely helped save lives," Spurlock said.

There is no school resource officer assigned to STEM, a K-12 charter school with an enrollment of about 1,800.  The school does employ a private security firm.

One of the suspects is a juvenile female and the other a man, Spurlock said.

Authorities identified the adult male suspect as Devon Erickson, 18, shortly before 9:30 p.m..  May 7. He was scheduled to appear in court the afternoon of May 8.

Authorities were working to get search warrants for their residences and a vehicle, the sheriff said the evening of May 7.  

Neither of the suspects had been on DCSO's radar and they did not appear to be targeting anyone in particular, Spurlock said.

The sheriff said deputies "struggled" to take the suspects into custody.

Spurlock said one of the suspects is a student at STEM and the other previously was a student there.

Victims were taken to hospitals in the area for treatment.  By the morning of May 8,  five victims had been released, while three remained in intensive care at hospitals, Spurlock said. 

The sheriff office said on Twitter at about 6:45 p.m. that one of the students, had died.

None of the victims besides Castillo had been identified as of Tuesday evening.

The youngest victim is 15 years old, Spurlock said. 

First responders from multiple jurisdictions were on scene, and the FBI is assisting with the investigation.  The morning of May 8, Spurlock said the investigation was likely to take two more days.

STEM School was placed on lockdown and all other schools in Highlands Ranch were placed on lockout, according to a Twitter message posted by the Douglas County School District.

MORE: 'Our STEM family is hurting'

The shooting happened in the high school portion of STEM, which also has elementary and middle school sections, all sharing one campus in an area brimming with businesses and offices.

High school parents were being told to go to the nearby Northridge Recreation Center, 8800 South Broadway, to pick up their children and were told to bring identification.

At about 3 p.m. at the rec center, James Suh, father of two students, said he knew that one child was safe, while the other one had left her phone in the locker room. “I’m just angry,” he said.

“We chose to send our kid (to STEM) because we thought there would be fewer drug problems," parent Jolene Hepperlen said. "We all griped when they installed new security measures.  But this is proof it can happen anywhere.“

Sarah Feldman was on her way to pick up her 7-year-old son, Joshua, from school when she got a call from her mother. 

News media had reported a shooting was underway at Joshua’s school, her mother said. Sarah couldn’t believe it. 

“How in the world could this happen,” she recalled thinking. 

The Littleton woman was among scores of families at the rec center roughly three hours after the shooting. She was reunited with Joshua, a first grader, there and able to take him home at about 4:45 pm. The school, her family said, promotes kindness at every level. They were in disbelief something like this could happen there. 

Pepsi and Larry laMar were at work when they received short, blunt text messages from their two teenage sons, students at the STEM school.

The boys heard gunfire. 

Later, as law enforcement escorted Jakob, their oldest, through the halls and from the school, he called his father.

“Dad,” Larry recalled him saying, “there’s a lot of blood.”

Highlands Ranch resident Kristen Anilionis has two children at Trailblazer Elementary, which is 2.3 miles from STEM along Highlands Ranch Parkway. She was heading home on C-470 when about 15 police cars rushed by, sirens on, from multiple jurisdictions.

When she turned onto Broadway, she saw law enforcement vehicles driving over medians trying to get around the traffic.

“They were seriously doing everything in their power to get to STEM as fast as they could,” she said.

She learned that her kids’ school was on lockout, and students weren’t let out until 4 p.m., one grade at a time. Parents all gathered outside.

“It was intense,” she said.

“It’s such a tight-knit community,” she said of Highlands Ranch. “You never think it’s going to be that close to home…”

On Twitter, Gov. Jared Polis said, "We are making all of our public safety resources available to assist the Douglas County Sheriff's Department in their effort to secure the site and evacuate the students. We are monitoring the situation in real time. The heart of all Colorado is with the victims & their families."

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