Colorado school gunman gets life with possibility of parole

FILE - In this May 8, 2019, file photo, a Douglas County, Colo., Sheriff's deputy walks past the doors of the STEM Highlands Ranch school in Highlands Ranch, Colo. The younger of two students charged in the shooting at the suburban Denver school in the spring of 2019 is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, July 24, 2020. The decision will come after a hearing in which those impacted by the shooting, including the parents of a student who died trying to stop the attack at STEM School Highlands Ranch, will speak. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

By COLLEEN SLEVIN (07/25)

A teenager who told authorities that he launched a fatal shooting attack on his suburban Denver school last year with a classmate because he wanted them to experience trauma like that he had experienced was sentenced on Friday to life in prison plus 38 years with the possibility of parole after about two decades behind bars.

Alec McKinney, 17, apologized to the parents of Kendrick Castillo, who was killed as he tackled one of the gunmen in the attack at STEM School Highlands Ranch, and to each of the eight other students wounded in the attack as well as those traumatized by it.

“I will never repeat these actions ever again because the harm I caused is truly too much for anyone to bear,” McKinney said as he seemed to choke back tears and struggled to breathe.

In his statement, made by video rather than in person because of the coronoavirus pandemic, he noted how each wounded student and their families had been affected, noting how one still has a bullet lodged in his body that requires him to be checked for lead poisoning and how another gave up playing soccer.

McKinney said he did not want leniency and urged anyone planning a school shooting to get help. But he also suggested the shooting was the idea of his alleged conspirator, Devon Erickson. Erickson’s lawyers have portrayed McKinney as the leader of the attack who pressured Erickson to join him.

After the shooting, McKinney told investigators that he planned the the attack for weeks and intended to target classmates who repeatedly mocked him because he was transgender, according to court documents.

“He wanted everyone in that school to suffer and realize that the world is a bad place,” said an affidavit summing up his statements.

The ripple effects of physical and emotional suffering caused by the shooting was a constant theme throughout the hearing.

Castillo’s parents spoke about their pain of losing their only son just days before graduation. John Castillo said he hated McKinney and said he was just crying “crocodile tears.”

“No one will know my pain unless you’re me. No one can ever take away that pain. It’s eternal,” Castillo said.

Teachers, parents and students spoke of being unable to sleep and developing anxiety and PTSD after the shooting. They also spoke of the triggers that can transport them back to the day of the shooting like the smell of drywall, which was ripped apart by bullets, and loud noises like fireworks and nail guns.

Kalissa Baraga, a parent volunteer at school to serve food to teachers on the day of the shooting, took cover in a men’s bathroom with her 5-year-old daughter and a baby that she watched. Her older children were in the elementary portion of the school as the chaos ensued.

Eventually, the door opened and someone pointed a rifle at her daughter. She soon realized that was a police officer.

A SWAT officer with him scooped up the baby, and they were ushered outside, past broken glass, which her daughter now associates with shootings, she said. The sight of it once caused her to run and hide at Home Depot, Baraga said.

“My kids are broken, my family is broken. We aren’t the same, and we won’t ever be the same,” Baraga told Judge Jeffrey K. Holmes.

The hearing was conducted partly online and in person because of the pandemic. Those testifying were allowed to appear in person in two different rooms in the court building, sitting apart from one another.

Holmes allowed them to remove their masks when they spoke, to make sure their emotion and facial expressions were seen, but lawyers had to keep their masks on. The lectern was wiped down after each person spoke.

McKinney, who pleaded guilty in February, was 16 at the time of the shooting. Even though he was prosecuted as an adult, he could be accepted into a three-year program for juvenile offenders after about 20 years in prison, taking into account time credits he could earn, District Attorney George Brauchler said. After completing that program, he would be released from prison.

Erickson, 19, has pleaded not guilty to all the same charges McKinney originally faced in the shooting. He is scheduled to go on trial in late September. Because he was an adult at the time of the shooting, he would be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted because prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

https://apnews.com/65779130df7afd8822f348ee501a8675

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribute

Posted in: Campus Crime, Convictions, Courts & Trials, Firearms, Guilty Pleas, Illegal Activities, Jail, School Shootings, Sentencing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

three + 11 =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.