Hearing in Colorado school shooting put off until next week
By P. SOLOMON BANDA and KATHLEEN FOODY Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Prosecutors investigating the case against two students suspected of shooting nine classmates, one fatally, in a suburban Denver charter school have until next week to decide what charges to pursue, a judge ruled Friday.
Meanwhile, all but one of those injured in the shooting have been released from hospitals, officials said.
District Judge Theresa Slade delayed hearings that had been scheduled for Friday for Devon Erickson, 18, and 16-year-old Alec McKinney, who is listed in court documents as Maya. They are suspects in the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch on Tuesday.
Court spokesman Rob McCallum said that both the prosecutors and defense agreed to a postponement until Wednesday.
Vikki Migoya, a spokeswoman for District Attorney George Brauchler, did not explain the reason for the delay.
The entire court file in the case is under seal. In an initial court appearance on Wednesday, Brauchler asked for a delay until Monday to file charges so that authorities would have the weekend to pursue their investigation.
The latest delay until Wednesday gives prosecutors more time to decide whether to charge McKinney as an adult. Colorado law permits prosecutors to file adult charges of serious felonies against 16- and 17-year-olds without prior approval from a judge.
Kendrick Castillo, the 18-year-old senior killed during the shooting, and two classmates at the school have been credited with helping thwart the attack by charging at one of the shooters when he entered a classroom. Authorities have said an armed private security guard restrained the second shooter.
Erickson and McKinney have been in jail since Tuesday on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.
The two students walked into their school with handguns and opened fire in two classrooms, authorities said. Investigators have offered no motive and refused to discuss how the students obtained the weapons.
Student Joshua Jones told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday that he, Castillo and Brendan Bialy reacted as soon as they saw the gun.
“We rushed him,” Jones said. “Kendrick pushed him against the wall. Me and Brendan grabbed him and threw him to the ground. I stayed on top of him while Brendan went off and tried to help Kendrick.”
Jones said he never specifically thought how he would react in such a situation.
“When it actually happened, I had to make that decision that nobody should really ever have to make, which was run towards a gunman or run away from them. I chose to run towards them,” he said.
Eight students were wounded. One remained hospitalized in fair condition Friday, and the others have been sent home.
The school was without a resource officer at the time because a contract with the sheriff’s office had been canceled.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said Friday his department did not renew its contract with STEM School for the current school year because of a dispute over what duties a resource officer should be responsible for. Instead, the school signed a contract with a private security firm.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press on Thursday the guard credited with capturing one of the suspects fired his weapon inside the school. 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.
The school released a statement Friday saying schools with and without resource officers have experienced violence. It also credited the guard, sheriff’s deputies and students with thwarting the attack, which unfolded nearly three weeks after neighboring Littleton marked the 20th anniversary of the Columbine attack that killed 13 people.
The two schools are separated by about 7 miles (11 kilometers) south of Denver.
Associated Press writer Thomas Peipert contributed to this report.