Colorado STEM School Shooting Suspect Allegedly Targeted Classmates Who Made Fun Of His Gender Identity

Devon Erickson is accused, along with a juvenile accomplice, of carrying out the school shooting.

Police officers stand watch at the scene of a shooting in which at least seven students were injured at the STEM School Highlands Ranch
Tom Cooper / Getty Images

Devon Erickson is accused, along with a juvenile accomplice, of carrying out the school shooting.

Along with 18-year-old Devon Erickson, a 16-year-old juvenile is accused of carrying out the Colorado STEM School shooting in May, allegedly targeting classmates who had made fun of him because of his gender identity, NBC News reports.

Until now, the motive for the May 7 shooting, which claimed the life of 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo and injured eight others, had been unclear. However, court documents released Thursday reveal that anti-LGBTQ bullying may have played a role in motivating the 16-year-old.

The juvenile, who for brevity’s sake will be referred to as “J,” is biologically female but reportedly prefers male pronouns. Authorities say that he was the mastermind behind the shooting and allegedly drew Erickson into the plot, which he had purportedly been planning for weeks.

J allegedly told police that he wanted to take revenge on classmates who had bullied him for his gender identity. He allegedly “said he wanted the kids at the school to experience bad things, have to suffer from trauma like he has had to in his life,” and that “he wanted everyone in that school to suffer and realize that the world is a bad place.” He allegedly targeted classmates who had “called him names and said he was disgusting for trying to be a guy” as well as referring to him as “a she,” according to court documents.

Both J and Erickson told police that they spoke the night before the shooting on the social media platform Snapchat and that J was suicidal and “wanted revenge.” They allegedly went to Erickson’s home during lunch and broke into his parents’ gun safe, stealing several weapons and ammunition. They also allegedly did cocaine, although Erickson claims he was bullied into it by J.

Erickson also reportedly claimed that he wanted to stop J. However, police say that he wasn’t able to explain why he never told a trusted adult about J’s alleged plans.

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It remains unclear, as of this writing, if Erickson also has a nonconforming gender identity.

Erickson and J are both being tried as adults in this case, each facing over 40 counts of murder, attempted murder, and various gun crimes. J’s attorneys, however, have attempted to move his case into juvenile court. As of this writing, neither suspect has entered a plea.

In other news revealed in court documents released this week, it’s been revealed that a security guard at the school fired a shot that struck and wounded a female student, believing erroneously that he “saw a muzzle come around the corner.” He has not been criminally charged in this case.