Suspected Colorado School Shooter Appears in Evidentiary Hearing

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CN) – Days after Devon Erickson’s 19th birthday, prosecutors in Colorado presented evidence of their case against the teen, who is charged in a school shooting that killed one of his classmates and injured eight others last May.

Friends  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)

Erickson was arrested on May 8 on several counts of first degree murder. Authorities say Erickson shot and killed his STEM School Highlands Ranch classmate, 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo, who selflessly charged at him. 

Defense attorney Julia Stancil of Denver firm Haddon Morgan Foreman presented Snapchat videos and messages sent between Erickson and reported accomplice 16-year-old Alec McKinney in the days and minutes leading up to the shooting.

McKinney is believed to have fired nine rounds from a revolver and then retrieved a second gun from his backpack.

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

From the 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.

McKinney also doused Erickson’s mom’s car in gasoline, lit it on fire, and threatened to burn the whole house down, Erickson’s defense said. As soon as Erickson was in police custody, he told officers he thought his house was on fire and his animals were inside.

Erickson communicated on Snapchat with the username DevonKillz.

Testifying before Judge Theresa Slade in Castle Rock, about 30 miles south of Denver, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office lead investigator Brian Pereira identified McKinney and Erickson in security camera footage.

Pereira said he is unable to identify which teenager fired which shots until the FBI completes its ballistics investigation.

In a video filmed shortly after he was detained, McKinney told police, “Devon [Erickson] is an idiot, a complete idiot. He hops on the bandwagon. I knew he would go with it and whether he was going to help me or not, I was going to get the guns.”

Shortly after Erickson was detained he told police he did not want to hurt anyone.

“McKinney didn’t talk about ‘our thoughts,’ and ‘our ideas,’ it was ‘my thoughts,’ and ‘my ideas, correct?’” Stancil asked Pereira, who confirmed that McKinney seemed to take credit for the attack on the school.

Stancil said investigators found no manifesto in Erickson’s house and that McKinney admired school shooters. McKinney also closely followed the story of Sol Pais, a Florida woman who flew to Colorado, where she took her own life before the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School tragedy.

Erickson’s evidentiary hearing will continue through Thursday and Slade will then determine whether the People of Colorado have enough evidence to try him for first degree murder.

McKinney is slated to return to court in November for a redetermination hearing. George Braucheler, district attorney for the 18th Judicial District in Colorado, is leading the prosecution against both of the young men.

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