One student died and seven others were injured a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Highlands Ranch, CO on Tuesday, according to the New York Times. The school is located less than eight miles from Columbine, where 13 were killed in a notorious shooting at Columbine High School almost exactly 20 years ago.
STEM School was one of many Colorado schools that closed temporarily last month on the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting due to security concerns.
“We know two individuals walked into the STEM school, got deep inside the school and engaged students in two separate locations,” Sheriff Tony Spurlock of Douglas County said at a press conference today. “There were a number of students that were shot and injured.”
Spurlock said that “several” students were in critical condition, but the Times reported that the hospitals say the students are mostly stable. Littleton Adventist Hospital told the Times that two of those admitted were still in serious condition.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office announced earlier this evening that one 18-year-old was killed.
Spurlock told reporters that two suspects came into the school, confronted security guards employed by the school and fired shots. The suspects had a handgun and other weapons. One of the suspects, who are both believed to be students at the school, has been identified as Devon Erickson.
“I can tell you that there were shots fired,” Spurlock said. “Our officers went in and engaged the suspects. We did struggle with the suspects to take them into custody.”
Neither of the suspects were apparently injured.
Spurlock says that police officers arrived at the school about two minutes after the shooting began.
“I have to believe that the quick response of officers that got inside that school helped save lives,” he said.
In the wake of the shooting, hundreds of parents gathered at the nearby Northridge Recreation Center where children from the school were taken after the attack.
“I heard a gunshot,” Makai Dixon, an 8-year-old second grader, told the Times. “I’d never heard it before.”
From the Times:
Tyler Rush, 17, a junior, said he had been on the second floor of the school, just above where the shooting occurred. He said it began during last period when the school announced a lockdown in the middle school portion of the building. He and his classmates gathered in a corner and turned out the lights. Some cried. Some sat paralyzed.
He heard two gunshots.
“I was in a state of shock,” he said.
One STEM school parent, Fernando Montoya, told Denver 7 News that his son was shot three times, but will be released from the hospital.
“Thank God he’s fine,” Montoya, who initially couldn’t reach his son after the shooting, said. “We are so lucky.”
It’s been only one week since the last major American school shooting occurred at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where two were killed and four others were shot.
On Twitter, Colorado Rep. Jason Crow, who represents Douglas County, called for stricter gun control laws.
“It is not enough to send thoughts and prayers, it is empty, it is weak, and it does an injustice to our children who are on the frontlines of this violence,” Crow, a Democrat, wrote.
“We must pass common-sense gun violence laws and ensure we are preparing our educators and law enforcement with the tools and resources necessary to create a safe and welcoming environment. This must stop,” he added.