Colorado school shooting suspects will appear in court to hear list of charges against them
(CNN) — The two teenage suspects in the deadly mass shooting at a Colorado charter school will appear in court Friday afternoon to hear the charges against them.
George Brauchler, district attorney for Douglas and other counties, has said 18-year-old Devon Erickson and 16-year-old Alec McKinney, both students at the school, will face murder, attempted murder and perhaps other charges.
“My heart goes out not just to the victims in this case, but there are those that won’t be classified as victims that are feeling it … right now. Moms and dads looking at each other making decisions about whether or not to send their kids to school in one of the greatest school districts in the country because they don’t feel safe,” Brauchler said Wednesday.
Brauchler is considering charging McKinney as an adult, he said. He is expected to make that decision before court Friday.
Authorities initially described McKinney as female. But the suspect’s lawyer said in court that the 16-year-old goes by the first name Alec and uses the pronoun “he,” Colorado Judicial Department spokesman Rob McCallum said.
Erickson’s hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. MT (3:30 p.m. ET). It is unclear whether cameras will be allowed in the courtroom as they were Wednesday.
One student was killed while trying to take down one of the suspects and eight other students were wounded in Tuesday shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch.
Students struggling to cope after the shooting
Chris Elledge should be looking forward to finishing his freshman year and enjoying summer break.
Instead, he and hundreds of other students are struggling to cope with the mass shooting that killed a young hero and wounded eight others at their Colorado school.
“It’s just scary not knowing what’s going to come next,” the 15-year-old said.
“How I was feeling in the moment is too horrible to remember. And I can’t imagine anyone who had to go through that in the past week or in the past year or whoever’s had to go through a shooting like what happened here.”
Anonymous parent feared ‘a repeat of Columbine’
Newly obtained documents show the Douglas County School District had urged the STEM school to investigate allegations of violence and bullying that an anonymous parent feared could lead to “a repeat of Columbine.”
Five months before Tuesday’s attack, a parent called the county Board of Education to express “concerns about student violence,” according to a school district letter obtained by CNN.
The parent cited an alleged bomb threat and student clashes as evidence that the school could become the site of another Columbine-style attack, according to the letter. She also made about a dozen other allegations against the school, including a claim that “money is being sent to China and Mexico.”
In response, Douglas County School District official Daniel Winsor wrote a letter to the school’s executive director, Penelope Eucker. He asked her to investigate the parent’s concerns, including claims that “many students are suicidal and violent in school. Several students have reported sexual assault in school and that nothing is being done.”
“The concerns expressed by this individual are very serious and need to be looked into to the extent possible. Please keep (the district) apprised of your investigation and conclusions,” Winsor wrote.
Parent was sued for ‘defamatory statements’
Eucker followed up with a letter to parents in February, disputing many of the anonymous parent’s claims.
Her letter said allegations against the school’s administration were investigated but could not be substantiated. But the letter did not address the concerned parent’s claims that the environment could lead to severe student violence.
Instead, the letter said the district sued the anonymous parent, “Jane Doe,” for spreading what they called “defamatory statements” about the school.
Court documents confirm this lawsuit was filed in January.
In a statement issued by a public relations firm, Eucker said the school’s administrative team contacted 2,800 parents.
“STEM did not receive responses from any parents or students with information about these allegations,” Eucker said. “While STEM took the allegations seriously, our investigation revealed no evidence to support any of the allegations raised in the anonymous complaint.”
Winsor could not be immediately reached for comment. CNN has not been able to verify the parent’s allegations, including the alleged bomb threat, with law enforcement.
Student recalls shooter screaming threats
Vivaan Kalura, 12, was in math class when he and his classmates heard screaming and thudding.
“I’m pretty sure the shooter said, ‘Shut up or I’ll shoot all of you,'” he told “CNN Newsroom.”
He said everyone in the class began to cry.
Behind their locked classroom door, the students and their teacher could hear law enforcement officers and the shooter.
An officer said two people were shot, Vivaan recalled, “and then everyone just kind of lost it.”
Vivaan said he is still scared by Tuesday’s events.