© 2024
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Students In Colorado Shooting Face Murder, Other Charges

Pool photo by Joe Amon
The Denver Post
The 18-year-old suspect in the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting, facing 48 criminal charges, makes a court appearance at the Douglas County Courthouse May 15, 2019, in Castle Rock, Colorado.

The two students suspected of shooting nine classmates, one fatally, at the STEM School Highlands Ranch appeared in court Wednesday to face dozens of criminal charges that included murder and attempted murder.

The parents of the teen who was killed in the attack looked on before attending to their son's memorial service. Senior Kendrick Castillo was just days from graduating when he was slain while trying to stop one of the gunmen during the May 7 attack.

Investigators say the accused assailants opened fire with handguns. They were arrested at the school.

While court documents are sealed, the charges against the teenagers listed in electronic court records also included theft and arson. Prosecutors said both will be tried as adults. The 16-year-old suspect's attorney, Ara Ohanian, said she would seek to move his case back to juvenile court.

Judge Theresa Slade denied the prosecution's request to make some of the documents public but said she would address the issue at the next hearing on June 7.

Castillo's parents also attended the hearing. His father stared at both defendants.

"It would have been easy for them to say, 'I'm not going to make it to court today because in less than two hours we're going to have a memorial service for our son,'" District Attorney George Brauchler said of Castillo's parents. "But from the word go they have made it clear that our intention is to be here for every single hearing."

Brauchler also revealed that he has asked an outside prosecutor to investigate whether charges should be filed against a private security guard who has been credited with apprehending one of the suspects in a school hallway.

Credit Pool photo by Joe Amon / The Denver Post
The Denver Post
District Attorney George Brauchler addresses the media after the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting suspects made court appearances on May 15, 2019.

Brauchler did not explain why the security guard would face charges. A law enforcement official told The Associated Press last week that the guard, a former Marine who has not been named, fired his weapon during the shooting.

Two news organizations citing anonymous sources reported that authorities are investigating whether the guard mistakenly fired at a responding sheriff's deputy and may have wounded a student.

Brauchler did not directly address those reports.

"This is a witness in the case, and I felt like in the abundance of caution that a decision about the facts related to the security guard needed to be addressed by a separate prosecutor," Brachler said.

The security guard's attorney, Robert Burk, said last week that his client acted to protect the children at the school. Burk did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Wednesday.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.