HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (Reuters) – The older of two students accused of opening fire in a suburban Denver high school, killing one classmate and injuring eight others, was charged on Wednesday with first-degree murder and attempted murder, court records showed.
The 18-year-old suspect charged as an adult, Devon Erickson, was due for an initial appearance later on Wednesday in Douglas County District Court in Castle Rock, Colorado, a short distance from the scene of Tuesday’s gun violence.
His accused accomplice, who is under the age of 18 and has not been identified, is being charged separately as a juvenile, authorities said.
The two teenagers are accused of opening fire on fellow students in two classrooms at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School in Highlands Ranch, about 25 miles south of Denver.
The 18-year-old student killed in the shooting, identified by his family as Kendrick Ray Castillo, was a senior just days away from graduation, police said on Wednesday as they continued to search for a motive in the attack.
Denver’s ABC television affiliate, citing an unidentified police source, reported on Tuesday that one of the suspects, apparently the younger of the two, was a student who was born male but identified being female and had been bullied for it.
Sheriff Tony Spurlock declined to answer a reporter’s question about whether the younger suspect was transgender.
“Right now we are identifying the individual as a female, because that’s where we’re at,” he said. “We originally thought the juvenile was a male by appearance.”
Spurlock said the suspect had been identified as male “before the detectives were able to get the medical – and detectives were able to speak to her.”
Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen and Peter Szekely in New York and Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bill Trott