STEM School Shooting Suspect Will Be Tried on Murder Charges

Friends and community members left flowers, stuffed animals, and cans of Coca-Cola outside STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado in honor of Kendrick Castillo, who was killed trying to thwart a May 7, 2019, shooting at the school. (Amanda Pampuro / CNS)

(CN) – A Colorado judge ruled Wednesday that a teenager will stand trial on first-degree murder charges over a school shooting that resulted in the death of his classmate in May.

Authorities arrested Devon Erickson, then 18, and 16-year-old Alec McKinney, believing both fired guns on their classmates on May 7 at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

Eighteen-year-old Kendrick Castillo was shot and killed, and eight others were injured a week before graduation.

The criminal complaint filed May 14 was finally made public Sept. 24. The charges against Erickson include two counts of first-degree murder, conspiracy and two dozen counts of attempted murder.

Defense attorney Julia Stancil of Denver firm Haddon Morgan Foreman presented evidence painting Erickson as a sensitive musician forced into aiding McKinney.

McKinney is alleged to have fired nine rounds from a revolver and then retrieved a second gun from his backpack. The FBI has yet to complete its ballistics analysis and has not confirmed who shot and killed Castillo.

Shortly after his arrest, McKinney told police he threatened Erickson with an ax and forced him to open his family’s gun safe.

From his Snapchat handle JM_MooCow, McKinney recorded himself yelling at Erickson and coercing him into snorting lines of cocaine. According to Erickson’s defense attorneys, McKinney made him load bullets into the weapons – including a Glock 21, a Beretta M9, a Ruger 10/22 rifle, and a Taurus revolver – then carry them back to school in a guitar case.

While the defense originally requested a three-day evidentiary hearing, Judge Theresa Slade said halfway through day two that she had seen enough: Erickson faces 48 felony charges and will return to court for arraignment Dec. 6.

McKinney is slated to return to court in November for a redetermination hearing. District Attorney George Brauchler is leading the prosecution against the young men.


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