Police and others are seen outside a recreation center where students are reunited with their parents, in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch, Colo., after a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Authorities said several people were injured and a few suspects were in custody. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Students kill classmate, injure 8 at school near Columbine

Shooting was allegedly carried out by two people

Two high school students shot and killed a classmate and injured eight others at a charter school in a Colorado community that just weeks ago marked the 20th anniversary of one of the nation’s worst school shootings.

That Tuesday afternoon’s attack at STEM School Highlands Ranch happened just miles from Columbine High School was sure to raise questions about whether it was inspired by the 1999 massacre, but the answer was not immediately clear.

Douglas County sheriff’s officials said Devon Erickson, 18, and a younger student walked into the STEM School Highlands Ranch through an entrance without metal detectors and opened fire with two handguns on students in two classrooms.

As gunfire echoed through the school, students hid or ran through the halls, some shouting.

“No one really knew what was going on so I didn’t know they were bullets,” said seventh-grader Sophia Marks. “I just kind of saw like flashes and we heard bangs.”

Student Nui Giasolli told NBC’s “Today” show she was in her British Literature class when Erickson came in late.

“He walked to the other side of the classroom where we also had another door and he opened the door. He walked back as if he was going to go back to his seat, then he walked back to the door and he closed it. The next thing I know he’s pulling a gun and he’s telling nobody to move,” she said Wednesday.

Giasolli said another student lunged at the shooter, giving the other students time to dive under the desks and flee to safety.

At least one student encountered the suspects during the shooting, Sheriff Tony Spurlock said. He did not elaborate.

“We’re going to hear about very heroic things that have taken place at the school,” Spurlock said.

He declined to identify the student who was shot and killed at the school.

Within minutes, deputies at a nearby sheriff’s department substation entered the school and arrested the two suspects without exchanging gunfire. One of the suspects was detained by the school’s security guard, Spurlock said.

READ MORE: For U.S. school shooting survivors, trauma has no time limit

Both suspects were students at the school and they were not previously known to authorities, Spurlock said.

Josh Dutton, 18, told The Associated Press that he was close friends with Devon Erickson in middle school but hadn’t seen him for four years as he went to a different high school. On Sunday, he spotted Erickson at a local light rail station and said he was shocked at how much his friend had changed.

Erickson wore all black, a hat and sunglasses, was significantly skinnier and didn’t seem interested in talking. “He said he’d just turned 18 and he owned rifles,” Dutton said.

A message left at a phone number listed for Erickson’s home was not immediately returned. He was scheduled to make an initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

It was not immediately clear when the younger suspect, who has not been identified, would appear in court.

The shooting took place exactly a week after a gunman killed two students and wounded four at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. It also comes nearly three weeks after neighbouring Littleton marked the grim 20th anniversary of the Columbine school massacre that killed 13 people. The two schools are separated by about 7 miles (11 kilometres) in adjacent communities south of Denver.

“Tragically, this community and those surrounding it know all too well these hateful and horrible acts of violence,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. President Donald Trump had been briefed on the shooting and was in touch with state and local officials, Deere said.

“The heart of all Colorado is with the victims and their families,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.

STEM is a public charter school with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math. It has more than 1,850 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

As the gunfire rang out, students ran through the halls shouting “School shooter!” Some wondered at first if it was a joke or a drill.

Chris Elledge, 15, said his teacher told the class to hide behind weight equipment in the room, where they stayed until police arrived.

“They busted in the room, and they were asking if there was any suspects in the room, if we were OK, and they escorted us out to go out to the front of the building,” Elledge said.

Frantic parents used their cellphones to find their children as news of the shooting spread. Sophia Marks’ mother, Sara Marks, said she has two other children who also go to the school.

“When you have no idea what’s going on and the children are texting you that they’re hiding under a desk and bullets are hitting their window, or things are hitting their window, it’s a horrible feeling,” she said.

Three hospitals reported treating eight people in connection with the attack. Five had been released by Wednesday morning, Spurlock said.

Fernando Montoya told television station KMGH that his 17-year-old son was shot three times but was expected to make a full recovery.

“Thank God he is fine,” Montoya said. “Even though he got shot, he’s OK. He’s going to walk out on his feet, so I’m glad. We’re so lucky.”

READ MORE: Friend of man accused of killing four people in Penticton in ‘absolute shock’

___

AP writer Nicholas Riccardi contributed to this report.

Kathleen Foody And P. Solomon Banda, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses review around ferry workers’ right to strike

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union collective agreement expires November 2020

Tofino poised to apologize to Japan

Mayor leads push to 1947 push to exclude “Orientals” from owning property or carrying on business

Sooke woman is ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at Thetis Lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

BC Ferries asks boaters to learn signals and be careful around ferries

BC Ferries responded to 15 marine emergencies in 2018

Port Alberni’s ‘Army of Problem Solvers’ to the rescue

Facebook group gathers people who just want to help their neighbours

VIDEO: Canadian, U.S. Coast guards run oil spill response drills

20 vessels were on the water to practice international response methods

Nanaimo Mounties to return stolen rifles to owner

Guns had been seized this month by police who found the suspect carrying rifles wrapped in a blanket

Rifflandia Festival cancelled for 2019

Early Bird tickets can be refunded at point of purchase, or held and redeemed for 2020

Campbell River-area residents on the hook following fisheries violations

DFO announces convictions related to sea urchin, prawn fisheries

Hundreds of warning notes issued in first weeks of Victoria’s Sunday parking fees

The City of Victoria instated Sunday parking fees on May 1

Fraser Valley man dead after car hurtles from embankment west of Campbell River

Survivor of crash rushed to hospital by helicopter in serious condition

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

VIDEO: Sunfest turns up summer heat with final lineup announcement

With young Port Alberni star, and Valley’s own Lindsay Elzinga joining the fun, you’ll wanna be there

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Most Read