Denver school shooting leaves 1 dead, 8 wounded

Authorities have released the name of an 18-year-old student accused of opening fire with a classmate inside a charter school in an affluent suburb of Denver, killing a teenager and wounding eight others.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office confirmed late Tuesday that Devon Erickson was taken into custody after the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch. The other suspect is a juvenile whose name has not been released.

Sheriff Tony Spurlock said the gunmen were both students at the school and that he had no information about whether anyone was targeted. Local authorities did not release the name of the student who died, but said he was 18 years old.

At least a handgun was recovered, but Spurlock didn’t release additional information about other weapons.

The public charter school has more than 1,850 students in kindergarten through 12th grades. The school is near a sheriff’s department substation, and authorities responded quickly.

The shooting wounded eight students. (Courtney Harper via AP)

“As officers were arriving at the school, they could still hear gunshots,” Douglas County Undersheriff Holly Nicholson-Kluth said.

Students were taken by bus to a nearby recreational centre to reunite with their families.

Student Christian Paulson told television station KMGH that he was in study hall when he saw kids running and shouting, “School shooter!” “And I’m like, what? Is this real or fake? And then I just went after them,” Paulson said.

“And apparently, this is all real. And I tried to run with my life, but I’m out of breath.”

‘It’s hard to believe’

Fernando Montoya told KMGH-TV his son said one of the shooters pulled a gun from a guitar case and began firing in a classroom.

“Thank God he is fine,” Montoya said. “Even though he got shot, he’s OK. He’s going to walk out on his feet, so I’m glad. We’re so lucky.” Montoya said his son doesn’t believe he was targeted.

“It’s hard to believe that someone in the classroom is going to have a weapon and is just going to open fire like nothing,” Montoya said.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement that he was making state public-safety resources available to help secure the site and evacuate students.

“The heart of all Colorado is with the victims and their families,” he said.

The school is about 11 kilometres from Columbine. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

The shooting comes nearly three weeks after neighbouring Littleton marked the grim 20th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting that killed 13 people. The two schools, both south of Denver, are not far apart.

Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, a gun-control supporter whose congressional district includes STEM, said the gun violence cannot continue.

“It is not enough to send thoughts and prayers. It is empty. It is weak, and it does an injustice to our children who are on the front lines of this violence,” he said.

The White House said its prayers are with those affected by a shooting at a suburban Denver school, and offered praise for law enforcement and first responders.

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