Prosecutors get more time to file Colorado shooting charges
DENVER — Prosecutors leading the case against two students accused 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.
The decision by District Judge Theresa Slade delays hearings that had been scheduled for Friday for Devon Erickson, 18, and 16-year-old Maya McKinney, who goes by the name Alec, to learn the criminal charges they face in the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch on Tuesday.
Court spokesman Rob McCallum said that both the prosecutors and defense agreed to postpone the hearing until Wednesday.
Vicki Migoya, a spokeswoman for District Attorney George Brauchler, said the office could not explain the reason for the delay.
A motion to continue the hearings until next week is under seal along with the entire file in both cases. In an initial court appearance on Wednesday, Brauchler asked to wait until Monday to file charges so that authorities would have the weekend to make progress on their investigation.
The latest delay 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.
The attack 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.
Friends remembered Castillo this week as funny, smart and modest and expressed no surprise that he protected his classmates. Castillo, a member of the school’s robotics club who loved to tinker with his own projects, was set to graduate days after he was killed.
Details about the armed school security guard who subdued the second suspect also emerged this week. The man’s employer, Boss High Level Protection, was contracted to guard the charter school that has an enrollment of about 1,800 students.
The guard, whose name has not been released, fired his weapon inside the school during the response to the shooting, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press. 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 law enforcement official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to make information public. The official did not address whether anyone was hit by the security guard’s shots.
An attorney for the guard declined to directly answer questions Thursday about the media reports but said his client helped prevent any further bloodshed. The security guard is a Marine veteran and previously worked for the Jefferson County sheriff’s office, attorney Robert Burk said.
“He ran there as quick as he could and took what I think is decisive action that helped save lives,” Burk said.