An 18-year-old student was killed and eight other students were injured after two shooters opened fire on a science and technology school in the Denver area on Tuesday.
The gunmen entered two classrooms in different locations “deep” inside STEM School Highlands Ranch and began shooting at students, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said at a press conference.
Deputies responded two minutes after receiving reports of shots fired within the school shortly before 2 p.m.
Authorities identified one suspect as 18-year-old Devon Erickson. The other suspect, initially described as a juvenile male but later identified as a female, has not been named. Both were believed to be students at the school, located in Highlands Ranch, 25 miles south of Denver.
Law enforcement officials said Wednesday that Erickson, a graduating senior, is to appear in court in the afternoon. They are considering charging the juvenile suspect as an adult, but “will wait to see what the investigation reveals,” District Attorney George Brauchler said.
Police were spotted in and outside Erickson’s family home on Tuesday night, The Denver Post reported. A white Honda sedan that had the numbers “666” spray-painted on its hood was towed from the property.
A neighbor, who described Erickson as a “quiet kid,” told the paper he was shocked by the allegations against the young man.
Spurlock said at least one handgun was used during the attack.
“This is a terrible event. This is something that no one wants to have happen in their community,” the sheriff said. “We’re going to investigate that and get to the bottom of it.”
Eight students were taken to local hospitals, some in critical condition. Kendrick Castillo, an 18-year-old male student, died.
Three students remained in intensive care as of Wednesday morning, law enforcement said.
Jake Stanley, a 14-year-old student, told Denver 7 ABC there was some panic after the middle school and high school portions of the campus were placed on lockdown.
“Everybody was a little bit panicked. We didn’t know what was going on,” he told the news station. “We could tell it was bad and it wasn’t just a drill.”
About 1,800 students attend STEM School Highlands Ranch, which has kindergarten through 12th grade classes.
Shortly after the shooting broke out, Gov. Jared Polis (D) said he was monitoring the situation.
“I‘m absolutely heartbroken to learn that a STEM school student was killed in the shooting today,” Polis said in a tweet later Tuesday. “I cannot imagine the grief & horror that the family is dealing with. Our deepest condolences go out to the family, the community, & everyone impacted by this senseless act of violence.”
The FBI has taken over the investigation and is at the crime scene. Officers are using a bomb disposal robot to search through a car thought to belong to the suspect. Investigators have also obtained warrants to search both of the suspects’ homes.
The White House issued a statement hours after the shooting, noting that President Donald Trump is monitoring the situation.
“Our prayers are with the victims, family members, and all those affected by today’s shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Littleton, Colorado,” deputy press secretary Judd Deere said. “Tragically, this community and those surrounding it know all too well these hateful and horrible acts of violence.”
Trump addressed the shooting in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon.
“Our Nation grieves at the unspeakable violence that took a precious young life and badly injured others in Colorado,” he tweeted.
According to the Denver Post, this is the fourth school shooting in Colorado since the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton on April 20, 1999, which left 12 students and one teacher dead. Highlands Ranch is just minutes from Littleton.
This article has been updated with information on students who were wounded and additional comments from law enforcement officials, as well as a tweet from Donald Trump and the name of the deceased.
Marina Fang contributed reporting.