September 26, 2019 / 12:20 AM / 25 days ago

Accused Colorado school shooter ordered to stand trial for murder

DENVER (Reuters) - One of two teenagers accused of opening fire at a Colorado charter school in May, killing one classmate and wounding seven others in a cocaine-fueled rampage, was ordered on Wednesday to stand trial on murder and attempted murder charges.

FILE PHOTO: Devon Erickson, 18, accused of taking part in a deadly school shooting at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School in Highlands Ranch, appears at the Douglas County Courthouse where he faces murder and attempted murder charges, in Castle Rock, Colorado, U.S., May 15, 2019. Joe Amon/The Denver Post/Pool via REUTERS

Devon Erickson, 19, has been held without bond since his arrest following the May 7 shooting at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, south of Denver.

He was ordered to stand trial by a Douglas County judge following a two-day preliminary hearing at which prosecutors presented evidence in support of first-degree murder and other charges, said Vikki Migoya, spokeswoman for district attorney George Brauchler.

The judge also set a December court date for Erickson to enter a plea, Migoya said.

According to police, Erickson and his co-defendant, Alec McKinney, 16, armed themselves with three handguns and a 22-caliber rifle that were stolen from a gun safe belonging to Erickson’s parents.

The pair broke into the safe with an ax and a crowbar and consumed cocaine before going on the shooting rampage, police said.

One student, 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo, was shot dead after witnesses said he was among a handful of students who charged the assailants.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Erickson told police that “he didn’t want anyone to get shot” but the handgun he was wielding discharged when he was hit by the rushing students.

Seven other students were wounded in the shooting spree. An eighth student was struck by an errant bullet fired by a private security guard.

The case against McKinney is on a slower track, as defense attorneys seek to have the case moved to juvenile court.

McKinney, who was born female, told police he was in the process of transitioning to male and during the shooting had targeted a classmate who had insulted him over being transgender, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

McKinney said he had planned the shooting for weeks and wanted other students to “experience bad things (and) to suffer from trauma like he has had to in his life,” the affidavit said.

McKinney, who is also being held without bond, is due back in court next month.

Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sandra Maler

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