One Suspect in Colorado's STEM School Shooting Identifies As Male

By Susan Jones | May 13, 2019 | 11:53am EDT
Students and teachers raise their arms as they exit the scene of a shooting in which at least seven students were injured at the STEM School Highlands Ranch on May 7, 2019 in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. (Photo by Tom Cooper/Getty Images)

( - Charges will be filed this week against two students suspected of opening fire on their classmates, killing one and injuring eight, at the K-12 STEM charter school in Douglas County, Colorado last week.

The two suspects, 18-year-old Devon Erickson and 16-year-old Alec (née Maya Elizabeth) McKinney, have been in jail since they were arrested on May 7 inside the school they both attended.

McKinney, described as transgender, was originally mistaken for a young man by law enforcement.

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock told a news conference last week that when the suspects were taken into custody, officers believed they were both young men.

"It wasn't until we got to this office, where we were able to determine that one of the suspects was a female," Spurlock said. "You have to understand that this individual was a young person. This individual is a small, young person and the identity wasn't definitive, obviously -- obvious to us when they were taken into custody."

Press reports since the shooting have said that McKinney was transgender and transitioning from female to male, a situation the school would have had to accept under the prevailing nondiscrimination policy.

According to the Douglas County School District Code of Conduct for 2018-2019: "The Board of Education is committed to the policy that no otherwise qualified student shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any District program or activity on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, or ancestry. For purposes of this policy: 'Sexual orientation' means a person’s actual or perceived orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status."

In a tweet on Sunday, the STEM school requested that outsiders and members of the media "respect our families' and staff's privacy as we move forward during this extremely stressful and emotional week ahead." The school has been closed since the May 7 shooting but is expected to reopen this week.

It is not yet known if McKinney will be charged as an adult, or if court documents will identify McKinney as female or male. The New York Post reported that when McKinney made a first appearance in court last week, "the teen's lawyers asked that the pronoun 'he' be used for their client."

Some students at the STEM school blame "mental health" for the horrific shooting.

According to USA Today, a large number of shooting survivors walked out of a gun control rally held in the school's gymnasium last Wednesday, "chanting 'mental health, mental health.'"

Social media posts reported by various news outlets indicate the two suspects were both troubled and angry.

The Daily Mail has reported that McKinney's father is an illegal immigrant and a serial felon who has been deported twice.

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