CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – The juvenile suspect in the deadly Highlands Ranch school shooting is facing charges as an adult. The teen, who prefers to be called Alec McKinney, appeared in Douglas County court in Castle Rock on Wednesday.
McKinney, 16, is a female who identifies as male and prefers to be called Alec. The other suspect in the shooting, Devon Erickson, also appeared in court on Wednesday.
Erickson, 18, and McKinney are accused of bringing two handguns into STEM School Highlands Ranch on May 7.
McKinney is facing 48 counts as an adult, including first-degree murder after deliberation, arson and burglary charges.
Erickson is also facing a total of 48 counts, including first-degree murder after deliberation, arson and burglary charges.
The suspects appeared in court on Wednesday for the formal filing of charges. Court documents remained sealed.
Kendrick Castillo, considered a hero, was shot and killed while trying to block one of the gunman from shooting more people. Eight other students were injured.
Castillo’s parents, along with victims and other family members, appeared in court for the formal filing of charges.
“It would have been easy for them to say, ‘I’m not going to be in court today because in less than two hours we’re going to have a memorial service for our son,'” said 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler.
A huge procession and celebration of life was planned for Wednesday to honor Castillo who was set to graduate this month and attend Arapahoe Community College in the fall.
Erickson remains in custody without bond at the Douglas County Jail in Castle Rock. He was initially charged with 30 counts and that increased to 48 counts by the time he appeared in court on Wednesday. McKinney is facing the same counts.
Those charges include possession of a weapon on school grounds. Erickson was a student in the British English class where the shooting began. Rooms 107, 108, 109 have been identified in the investigation as part of the shooting scene.
No decision has been made on whether the death penalty could be applied to Erickson. Brauchler made it clear that it wouldn’t be considered in McKinney’s case.
“Juveniles never, ever get considered for capital punishment because the Supreme Court said no under the 8th Amendment,” said Brauchler.
McKinney’s attorneys are seeking to have the case against him moved back into juvenile court.
Erickson appeared in court with pink and black hair and glasses, wearing an orange jumpsuit with wrists and ankles shackled.