Correction 5/8 10:00 a.m.: A previous version of this story incorrectly counted the number injured at seven. The text has been updated to reflect that eight students were injured.
One student is dead and seven others injured by gunfire at a Denver-area school, just miles from Columbine High School in Colorado. Two male suspects have been taken custody.
Administrators at the STEM School Highlands Ranch in Douglas County, near Denver, notified law enforcement that shots had been fired shortly before 2 p.m. local time. The first deputies arrived on the scene two minutes later and engaged the suspects, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said at a press conference later on Tuesday. He believes that the quick response “helped save lives.”
“We know that two individuals walked into the STEM School, got deep into the school, and engaged students in two separate locations,” Spurlock said.
Eight students, all 15 or older, were shot and transported to area hospitals, and “several” were in critical condition, according to Spurlock. Fernando Montoya told Denver 7 News that his son was shot three times but was stable.
The two suspects are a juvenile male and an adult male, and both are students of the STEM, Spurlock said. Neither was injured, and the officers detained them after a physical struggle. At least one of the suspects was carrying a handgun.
Spurlock said neither of the suspects was on any watchlist as far as he’s aware but added that he didn’t want to share much more information, which might be necessary for prosecution later.
After obtaining a search warrant from the local district attorney’s office, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department deployed a bomb robot while they searched a suspect’s car, parked near the school, the Denver Channel reported.
The STEM school serves 1,800 students, kindergarten through 12th grade. It’s located just eight miles south of Columbine High School, where two gunman killed 13 people in 1999. Spurlock said that the school has private security rather than a school resource officer, but he didn’t say whether they engaged with the suspects.
On April 20, Columbine observed the 20-year anniversary of that shooting. In the days before, all schools in the Denver area were forced into lockdown after a teenage girl, obsessed with the shooting, traveled to Colorado from Florida and bought a gun. She was later found dead by a self-inflicted gun wound.
“We don’t have all the details regarding the situation at STEM school, but we do know this: We have a public health crisis on our hands,” Rep. Jason Crow, a Democrat from Colorado, said in a statement. “This cannot continue."
Cover image: Officials guide students off a bus and into a recreation center where they were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)