The horrifying school shooting in 2019 in Colorado left millions of people shocked and devastated. The shooter, who was a former student, killed one teenager along with injuring eight others. After almost one and a half years, the jury has finally closed the case with the Colorado School Shooter being sentenced to hundreds of years of life in prison without parole.
The backstory of the 2019 Suburban Denver High School Shooting
In 2019, Devon Erickson attacked his classmates while they were watching “The Princess Bride” in the dark. He killed an 18-year-old boy named Kendrick Castillo and injured eight other classmates
Devon teamed up with his classmate Alec McKinney at STEM School Highlands Ranch. Both of them entered the classroom and tried to kill as many students and teachers as possible. However, Alec who was only 16 at the time did not kill or hurt anyone.
The initial plan was that Erickson would kill Alex who would become a victim/hero. However, before they could do this, Castillo, a fellow student, stepped in and sacrificed his life. Two other students Brendan Bialy and Joshua Jones also charged at Erickson. He tried shooting at them four times after which his gun got jammed.
Court Hearing of the Colorado School Shooter
A lengthy and sentimental court hearing took place to determine Erickson’s sentence. Classmates, parents, and teachers shared horrifying details of the shooting including all the pain and trauma that they experienced. Upon hearing this, Judge Theresa Michelle sentenced the Colorado School Shooter to years of prison on account of multiple charges of attempted murder along with the death of one student. Erickson will also not get the option to leave prison early on parole.
At the hearing, Erickson wore a red and white striped prison suit with handcuffs and a mask. He showed no remorse for his actions. He didn’t do anything at the hearing except blow his nose into his mask. However, when his parents and siblings expressed their love for him in their testimonies, his voice broke as he declined the judge’s offer to say something.
Judge Slade reprimanded Colorado School Shooter saying “I don’t believe, Mr. Erickson, at least for now, that it makes a difference to you. So what you do the rest of your life in prison, that’s not on me. It’s on you.”
The Cause of the Shooting
Erickson’s defendants tried to argue with the court saying that he was pressured by McKinney into participating in this heinous act. They also tried to justify Castillo’s death as an accident. According to them, Castillo got shot by accident when he pushed Erickson against a wall.
Moreover, Colorado School Shooter’s attorney David Kaplan said that he was extremely remorseful. His friends and witnesses described him as a cheerful unselfish person who loved to help other people. However, he came under McKinney’s sway and committed murder.
Erickson’s father Jim read the names of the victims out loud and apologized to them. “We pray for these people every day. We hope that they can find peace, and we hope that they can find forgiveness — and I know that’s a hard ask, forgiveness,” he said.
However, Erickson said nothing at the hearing. He didn’t even give any reason for the shooting! This has left a gaping hole in a community that desperately needed some closure.
The fate of Erickson’s Accomplice- Alec McKinney
Alec McKinney who helped Erickson carry out this evil action pleaded guilty last year. He was sentenced to a lifetime in prison. However, since he was only 16 at the time, he can become eligible for parole. But only after 20 years. This is part of the juvenile offenders program that allows individuals younger than 18 to get parole despite the severity of their crime.
At his hearing, McKinney said that the whole plan was devised by Erickson. The plan was devised for weeks and aimed to hurt those students who mocked him because he was transgender.
The aftermath of the 2019 Shooting by Colorado Shooter
The shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch impacted not only the lives of the students and teachers present there. But also, it devastated millions of people worldwide. A sense of danger overtook the lives of several hundred people as they realized how unsafe schools and teaching institutions could be.
The students and staff at the popular Colorado school suffer from panic attacks, trauma, nightmares of blood and gunshots, and screams. In fact, one teacher was so traumatized that she stopped teaching older students. Hence, she now teaches only younger students.
Joshua Jones who helped stop Erickson said “He killed Kendrick, and he didn’t care. I would implore you to put him in jail for as long as you can.” His friend Brendon Bialey added “The defendant is a loser. He walked into a classroom, armed, with vulnerable students, and he lost.”
Castillo’s parents also shared their painful feelings. They described Castillo as a happy young man who was always willing to help others. John Castillo, his dad, commented on the shooting saying “We don’t want to forget Kendrick, but it’s an emotional journey that most people will never understand, and I hope they don’t.”