Teens Accused Of STEM School Shooting Used Cocaine: Investigators

The teenagers accused of murder in the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting last month used cocaine before the attack and targeted specific students, a newly-released arrest affidavit shows.

Devon Erickson, 18, and Alec McKinney, 16, used the drug and then broke into Erickson’s parents’ gun safe with a crowbar and an ax, investigators said. The two then put the guns into a guitar case and backpack and walked into the school.

McKinney, who was born female but identifies as male, told investigators that he wanted to hurt two of his classmates because they taunted him and called his gender identity “disgusting.” The 16-year-old said he had been planning the attack for several weeks and “wanted the kids at the school to experience bad things, have to suffer from trauma like he has had to in his life. He wanted everyone in that school to suffer and realize the world is a bad place,” according to the arrest affidavit.

McKinney said he had been experiencing suicidal and homicidal thoughts since he was 12 and planned to kill himself after the shooting, investigators said. He said he couldn’t shoot himself because he couldn’t figure out how to operate one of the guns he had put in the guitar.

Erickson said he only found out about McKinney’s planned attack the night before, according to court documents. Erickson told investigators that he went along with the plans because he said McKinney repeatedly threatened to kill him if he didn’t participate in the shooting.

Erickson said he planned to warn school staff about the threat but had an anxiety attack before the shooting, court documents show.

Both teens went into a room in the school with the guitar and the backpack and McKinney shut the door so it couldn’t be opened from the outside, according to the affidavit. Erickson took out a gun and said, “nobody move,” and McKinney shot at students. Erickson was then tackled by some of the students but McKinney got away with one of the guns, investigators said.

Kendrick Ray Castillo, 18, was shot and killed when he tackled Erickson. Eight other students were also shot and injured.

The newly unsealed affidavit also alleges that a private security guard accidentally shot someone during the chaos. A separate investigation has been launched into the guard’s actions.


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