Second suspect misidentified as male, sheriff says of STEM School shooting

Authorities detained one male, one female suspect

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Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock was confident the community would hear about “very heroic things” as more information was expected to come out in the days following a school shooting in Highlands Ranch.

He couldn't confirm to what extent students at STEM School Highlands Ranch might have fought back against shooters that invaded their classrooms on May 7, but he knew from video footage that officers rushed in to rescue children, carrying some at least 100 yards to the nearest ambulance.

He spoke to media at a 6 a.m. press conference May 8 alongside Gov. Jared Polis and 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler to offer updates on the May 7 incident in which two suspected gunmen injured eight students and killed one.

“The past 24 hours have been very difficult for Douglas County, for Colorado,” Polis said. “We learned that a student's life was taken too soon by a vicious act of violence.”

Polis called Colorado a strong and resilient state that is too familiar with tragedies like mass shootings. The state is “really heartbroken, frustrated, still shocked and, frankly, sick over a mass shooting occurring in Douglas County,” he said.

Douglas County School District Superintendent Thomas Tucker, among others, was also in attendance but did not speak.

Spurlock confirmed the adult male suspect identified on May 7 as 18-year-old Devon Erickson was being held at the Douglas County jail and would appear in court the afternoon of May 8. The younger suspect, a juvenile, was initially identified the day of the shooting as male but has now been confirmed as female.

Spurlock said the younger suspect was not immediately identifiable as a female by their appearance.

Authorities, including the FBI, were still actively working the crime scene. Spurlock expected that would continue for the next couple of days.

All except three victims had been released from area hospitals. Those not released remained in intensive care as of the 6 a.m. media briefing.

Spurlock declined to identify the student who died, saying the coroner had not legally identified the victim yet. He expected that information would be available later in the afternoon. None of the wounded students' names had been released either.

Neither suspect was injured by officers and first responders did not exchange gunfire with them at the time of their arrest, the sheriff said. Spurlock believes one of the suspects was detained by a privately-contracted security guard when officers first encountered them in the school. There was not a school resource officer assigned to the school.

The suspects were not together at the time of their arrest and had opened fired at two separate locations in the school, Spurlock said.

It was too soon to confirm a motive for the shooting and Spurlock would not say if the suspects were cooperating with law enforcement.

Spurlock confirmed a graffitied vehicle was taken from the residency of one suspect but said investigators are still analyzing the evidence and meaning of the graffiti.

Brauchler said charges mentioned in the older suspect's first hearing would likely change in the coming days. He did not know if prosecutors would charge the juvenile suspect as an adult or if the juvenile would appear in court that afternoon as well.

Brauchler reminded the public the suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty, saying that was imperative “for this system to work.” He also encouraged members of the media to follow No Notoriety guidelines as they cover the shooting and obtain information on both victims and suspects.

“Let us move past focusing on the identity of the suspect and their image,” Brauchler said.

He also asked the community to remember all students at the school would be affected by the shooting. About 1,800 students in grades K-12 attend STEM School.

MORE: 'Our STEM family is hurting'

“There are those that won't be classified as victims that are feeling it right now,” he said.

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