The Latest: What We Know About The Shooting At STEM School Highlands Ranch
A shooting at a STEM charter school in Highlands Ranch south of Denver left one student dead and eight others injured on Tuesday. Two suspects are in custody and appeared in court Wednesday. Here is the latest information we have, following a briefing by the Douglas County Sheriff's office early this morning.
The victims of the shooting
The Douglas County coroner has identified the student who was killed as Kendrick Ray Castillo. He was 18 years old and would have finished his senior year on Friday.
Eight other students were injured — Sheriff Tony Spurlock said this morning that three of them remain in intensive care at area hospitals. The others have been released.
This is 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo. He was the young man killed in the #STEMshooting yesterday.— Mekialaya White (@Mekialaya) May 8, 2019
We’re told he was passionate about technology, on the school’s robotics team, and set to graduate in just 3 days. Sending his family so much love during this time. 🙏🏽 @CBSDenver pic.twitter.com/QYalFnsCom
Student Nui Giasolli told NBC's "Today" show that Castillo was shot when he lunged at the gunman who entered their British literature class. Castillo's actions gave the rest of the class time to get underneath their desks and then run across the room to escape to safety, Giasolli said.
Rachel Short said Castillo was a funny and empathetic person who loved others and was a part-time employee at her manufacturing company, Bacara USA.
"To find he went down as a hero, I'm not surprised. That's exactly who Kendrick was," Short said.
Cecilia Bedard, 19, knew Castillo since elementary school and said he was always friendly, modest and excited to help people. He made a point of always joining his father at Knights of Columbus fundraisers and bingo nights.
"He was amazing," Bedard said. "He was honestly the sweetest kid I ever met. Never said a mean joke."
Marine recruit helped stop gunman
The U.S. Marine Corps says a student who helped subdue one of the Colorado school shooters is Brendan Bialy, a member of the Marines' Delayed Entry Program.
The Marines said Wednesday that Bialy put his own safety at risk and showed "courage and commitment" in helping tackle the gunman.
Marine Capt. Michael Maggiti said Bialy's "decisive actions resulted in the safety and protection of his teachers and fellow classmates."
Maggiti said Bialy was not injured. The Delayed Entry Program allows prospective Marines to sign up days or months before they start training. Maggiti says Bialy is scheduled to begin training this summer.
Suspects used handguns in the attack
Authorities have two suspects in custody, an 18-year old and another who is a juvenile. Both are students at STEM School Highlands Ranch.
Spurlock said the two walked into the school yesterday afternoon and shot at students in two separate areas. The school reported the incident at 1:53 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, and that sheriff's deputies were on the scene within minutes.
Spurlock said they used handguns. More specifics on the weapons are not available at this time. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is investigating how and where the guns were acquired.
Neither suspect was old enough to buy or own handguns. Colorado allows people 18 and older to buy "long guns," such as shotguns, rifles and semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15, from dealers with federal firearms licenses. All firearms buyers in Colorado must undergo background checks conducted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
First court appearances
The two suspects made separate court appearances Wednesday afternoon. Both are being held without bond.
The 18-year-old defendant nodded frequently in answering the judge's questions but at one point the judge requested a verbal answer to whether he had any questions about the proceedings, to which he simply replied "No."
The juvenile suspect's public defender said Wednesday that his client uses male pronouns. The lawyer also asked for the defendant to go before the magistrate judge because he is a minor, a request the judge denied.
District attorney George Brauchler says he hasn't decided whether to file adult charges against the juvenile defendant. Brauchler says he is 16, the youngest age at which Colorado law allows prosecutors to file adult charges without a judge's review.
Both suspects are scheduled to return to court on Friday, when formal charges are expected to be filed.
Joint investigation with FBI underway
A motive for the incident has not yet been determined, and Spurlock said that's going to take time.
"We are still actively working the crime scene with our partners from the FBI. We anticipate that’s probably going to take at least two more days for us to manage that," he said.
Spurlock said they're slowing things down, taking time to process all the evidence, which includes a vehicle that apparently was parked at the school, and searches of the suspects' residences. The investigation also includes interviewing people at the school and searches of social media.
Vigil planned tonight
A vigil is planned for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Highlands Ranch High School gym.
Officials with the Douglas County School District say the STEM school will be closed for the remainder of the week. A crisis center opened this morning at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch for students and staff.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.