Devon Erickson, the 18-year-old student who, together with an accomplice, allegedly opened fire at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado on Tuesday, was known for years as a bully who would make jokes about school shootings, a former friend claimed in a recent interview.
Speaking to CNN on Friday, former STEM School Highlands Ranch student Kevin Cole told the correspondent Scott McLean that Erickson’s friends “couldn’t believe” that the teenager was purportedly behind Tuesday’s shooting, but “weren’t entirely surprised” either by the news. He also shed light on Erickson’s alleged penchant for bullying other students, telling McLean that the two were once friends, but ultimately fell out after Erickson started picking on his brother.
As Cole recalled, the bullying did not go beyond Erickson taunting his brother and spreading rumors about him. However, he claimed that the alleged Colorado gunman resorted to violence when it came to other students, particularly those who angered him. According to Cole, this included a classroom incident where Erickson tried to choke one of his friends with a rubber tube.
“That’s how he got his kicks, that’s what he thought was funny is if he could get a reaction out of you,” Cole told CNN.
While the CNN report didn’t mention too many details about the alleged bullying victims, a separate report from NBC News noted that Erickson’s supposed bullying was mainly directed toward younger children.
Devon Erickson lives with his parents in Highland Ranch, Colorado, and is a student at the STEM School Highlands Ranch. He and another suspect were arrested after 1 student was killed and 7 others were wounded, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office says: https://t.co/mKDqniXbbs pic.twitter.com/yWQ7ffuHiV— Heavy.com (@HeavySan) May 8, 2019
In addition to the above accusations of violent behavior and verbal abuse against other students, Cole also recounted that Erickson joked multiple times about shooting up the school, including incidents where he would tell his classmates that he would start shooting after he dropped his pencil, then continue dropping pencils as the class continued. However, those weren’t the only times that Erickson would hint at such plans, his former friend added.
“He would just get really close and kind of hunch himself over your shoulder as you were sitting down, and he would just whisper in your ear ‘don’t come to school tomorrow’ and just kind of crack a smile and walk back to his seat,” said Cole.
“People would write it off as “that was just a Devon thing” and laugh.”
As noted by CNN, Devon Erickson and alleged partner-in-crime, 16-year-old Alec McKinney, will likely face charges of murder and attempted murder when they appear in court on Wednesday morning for their hearings, which were originally scheduled to take place on Friday. The shooting took the life of one student, 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo, while another eight were injured and hospitalized following the attack.