This past Friday, 20-year-old Devon Erickson was sentenced for his role in the 2019 school shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado. Erickson was 18 at the time of the shooting. When Erickson produced his gun in a classroom, he was immediately rushed by 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo, who slammed Erickson up against a wall. Castillo saved a countless number of students, but tragically lost his life doing so. Erickson shot Kendrick four times.
This school shooting was one of the rare instances where there actually were multiple shooters. Erickson’s cohort and the ringleader of the shooting was then 16-year-old Alec McKinney. McKinney was charged as an adult, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, and was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 40 years. Colorado law prohibits minors from being sentenced to life without parole.
Erickson, on the other hand, went to trial and in June of this year, he was convicted of first-degree murder, criminal attempt to commit murder in the first degree, arson and criminal mischief. In total, Erickson was convicted on 46 charges related to the shooting. Douglas County District Court Judge Theresa Slade handed down a sentence of life without parole for Kendrick Castillo’s murder and an additional 1,282 years for the other counts. That’s not a typo, by the way. If it were possible, Erickson wouldn’t see the light of day until at least the year 3303. As far as I can remember, this is the longest sentence a school shooter has ever received. If I recall correctly, this beats the former record holder, Kip Kinkel, who was sentenced to 115 years behind bars.
Judge Slade didn’t hold back when sentencing Erickson. Judge Slade had this to say…
“There’s nothing that I can do and no sentence that I can impose that will achieve the things that I want to do,” Slade said. “The human being in me…would like to take back May 7. That’s the only way to turn back this clock and make folks walking out of here better. We can’t do that.”
However, Slade noted that Erickson himself had made minimal and even “manipulative” statements. “Today is the first day that I’ve seen you show any kind of emotion,” the judge said, when hearing his family talk about what Erickson had lost in his life through his crimes.
Slade noted all of the positive testimony about Kendrick Castillo, and took it one step further.
“He seemed like the kind of kid to me that if you had confided in him that you were struggling in school, Mr. Erickson, he probably would have canceled his own plans to help you,” she said. “If you confided you were struggling at home, he probably would have brought you home with him.”
Slade added: “Mr. Erickson, I don’t believe it makes a difference to you.”
Many of the students who were present at the time of the shooting also gave their statements during the sentencing hearing. Many of them talked about how their lives have been drastically altered due to Erickson’s heinous acts. One student relayed how she has PTSD and is afraid to go out in public now. A teacher talked about how she can never trust her students again. Other witnesses labeled Erickson a coward and a failure, and to be honest, they’re not wrong.
Erickson was eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors decided not to seek it, stating that it would have been difficult to obtain. For once, I think the death penalty would have been the wrong call here. While I would have had no qualms if Erickson had been executed, to do so would create a martyr for potential copycats.
Speaking of copycats, in a large number of school shootings and school shooting plots, the suspects plan on taking their own lives before being apprehended. However, as the saying goes, the universe laughs when Man makes plans. What I’m getting at is, even if you think you’ve plotted the ‘perfect’ school shooting scenario, you never know when you’ll run into a cop, or a teacher who worked in the NFL, or a man like Kendrick Castillo to ruin your plans. Or even if you’re ‘successful’ in taking your own life before you’re arrested, you will not have the infamy that you crave. If you go to jail, you’ll be forgotten. If you kill yourself, you’ll be forgotten. Why? Because there have been a long list of school shooters whose names have been forgotten.
Without using Google, can the average person name the gunmen at Red Lake High School or NIU? I highly doubt it, but at the time, those were two of the most deadly school shootings in America. But now, their names have been largely forgotten, having been replaced by more recent shootings.
My point is, if you’re thinking about committing a school shooting, just don’t. You won’t be remembered, you’ll just be another name on a long list of losers. You probably have a creative talent for something. Focus on that and produce something the world can appreciate instead of a product of hate which accomplishes nothing.
Thanks to Lady Gray for the tip.
- Devon Erickson, STEM School Shooter, Sentenced To Life In Prison Without Parole +1,200 Years
- STEM school shooter Devon Erickson sentenced to life in prison
- Second STEM School shooter sentenced to life without parole for murder of Kendrick Castillo
- Colorado school shooter sentenced to life plus 1,282 years in prison