UPDATE: (AP) — Two students opened fire Tuesday inside a charter school in an affluent suburban Denver community not far from Columbine High School , killing a teenager, wounding eight and spreading minutes of terror before they were taken into custody with no injuries, authorities said.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said the pair walked into the STEM School Highlands Ranch and began shooting students in two classrooms. Within minutes, deputies at a nearby sheriff’s department substation entered the school and arrested the two suspects after a struggle.
“As officers were arriving at the school, they could still hear gunshots,” Douglas County Undersheriff Holly Nicholson-Kluth said.
Authorities did not release the name of the student who died, but said it was an 18-year-old man.
“I have to believe that the quick response of the officers that got inside that school helped save lives,” Spurlock said. He did not identify the suspects, but said they are an adult and a minor who were not previously known to authorities. Authorities planned to search their homes and a vehicle at the school, he said.
The shooting comes nearly three weeks after neighboring Littleton marked the grim 20th anniversary of the Columbine school massacre that killed 13 people. The two schools are separated by about 7 miles (11 kilometers) in adjacent communities south of Denver. It also comes exactly a week after a gunman killed two students and wounded four at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – One was killed and seven students were hurt in a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch and police say “two shooters” were caught by officers running into the building. Both suspects are students at the school.
Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the K-12 charter school at Ridgeline Boulevard and Plaza Drive just after 2 p.m.
The FBI crime unit is investigating inside the high school where the shooting happened. Both suspects are students at the STEM School. Neither suspect was injured. One of the suspects is 18 years old.
Investigators searched a suspect vehicle parked in the school’s parking lot.
All those injured in the shooting are students at the school, age 15 and older. Spurlock said that no teachers or staff members were injured in the shooting.
“We know there are 1,800 kids that go to that school and we are frantically trying to identify everyone of those and making sure we can connect them to their parents. That’s going to take a little bit of time,” said Spurlock.
Officials ask that the public, including parents and other relatives, avoid the area. SWAT teams went into the Douglas County school and cleared it out on Tuesday afternoon.
CBS4’s Rick Sallinger talked to a woman who said her daughter is the teacher in the classroom where the shooting apparently happened. Her daughter teaches juniors and seniors.
“I believe the student was targeting her, from what I understand,” said a woman who said she is the mother of Lauren Harper. “She’s with the police right now … she’s a witness.”
The school district confirms students from STEM School Highlands Ranch were being taken by bus to Northridge Rec Center, located at 8800 South Broadway, where parents can pick them up. Parents were being told to bring identification.
“Reunification is going to take time, PLEASE BE PATIENT,” officials with the Colorado State Patrol tweeted.
After-school activities were canceled across the Douglas County School District.
The situation at the recreation center was very emotional. CBS4’s Karen Morfitt said parents who raced to the location were very upset.
“Some parents were crying, but it seemed to be controlled chaos,” said one mother. “He’s my child, I don’t think I’m going to be okay until I have him.”
“I just want to see him. I want him to see me, I want him to see me,” said another mother. “I’m just hoping it’s not as bad as it could be.”
According to the website for STEM School Highlands Ranch, located at 8773 South Ridgeline Boulevard, the school is described as an “innovative, free, public, charter learning community.” The school educates children K-12 grades. The school is considered a “think tank and learning lab” for creativity. The website states, “Our goal is not only to prepare students to thrive in the constant world of re-invention, but to lead it.”
The school is located approximately 8 miles from Columbine High School in neighboring Jefferson County. That’s the site of one of the worst school shootings in history. In 1999, 12 students and a teacher were killed by the gunmen.