STEM Highlands Ranch school in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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By Colleen Slevin, AP

A teenager who told authorities that he launched a fatal shooting attack on his suburban Denver school last year with a classmate because he wanted them to experience trauma like that he had experienced was sentenced on Friday to life in prison plus 38 years with the possibility of parole after about two decades behind bars.

Alec McKinney, 17, apologized to the parents of Kendrick Castillo, who was killed as he tackled one of the gunmen in the attack at STEM School Highlands Ranch, and to each of the eight other students wounded in the attack as well as those traumatized by it.

“I will never repeat these actions ever again because the harm I caused is truly too much for anyone to bear,” McKinney said as he seemed to choke back tears and struggled to breathe.

In his statement, made by video rather than in person because of the coronoavirus pandemic, he noted how each wounded student and their families had been affected, noting how one still has a bullet lodged in his body that requires him to be checked for lead poisoning and how another gave up playing soccer.

McKinney said he did not want leniency and urged anyone planning a school shooting to get help. But he also suggested the shooting was the idea of his alleged conspirator, Devon Erickson. Erickson’s lawyers have portrayed McKinney as the leader of the attack who pressured Erickson to join him.

After the shooting, McKinney told investigators that he planned the the attack for weeks and intended to target classmates who repeatedly mocked him because he was transgender, according to court documents.

“He wanted everyone in that school to suffer and realize that the world is a bad place,” said an affidavit summing up his statements.

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The ripple effects of physical and emotional suffering caused by the shooting was a constant theme throughout the hearing.

Castillo’s parents spoke about their pain of losing their only son just days before graduation. John Castillo said he hated McKinney and said he was just crying “crocodile tears.”

“No one will know my pain unless you’re me. No one can ever take away that pain. It’s eternal,” Castillo said.

Teachers, parents and students spoke of being unable to sleep and developing anxiety and PTSD after the shooting. They also spoke of the triggers that can transport them back to the day of the shooting like the smell of drywall, which was ripped apart by bullets, and loud noises like fireworks and nail guns.

Kalissa Baraga, a parent volunteer at school to serve food to teachers on the day of the shooting, took cover in a men’s bathroom with her 5-year-old daughter and a baby that she watched. Her older children were in the elementary portion of the school as the chaos ensued.

Eventually, the door opened and someone pointed a rifle at her daughter. She soon realized that was a police officer.

A SWAT officer with him scooped up the baby, and they were ushered outside, past broken glass, which her daughter now associates with shootings, she said. The sight of it once caused her to run and hide at Home Depot, Baraga said.

“My kids are broken, my family is broken. We aren’t the same, and we won’t ever be the same,” Baraga told Judge Jeffrey K. Holmes.

The hearing was conducted partly online and in person because of the pandemic. Those testifying were allowed to appear in person in two different rooms in the court building, sitting apart from one another.

Holmes allowed them to remove their masks when they spoke, to make sure their emotion and facial expressions were seen, but lawyers had to keep their masks on. The lectern was wiped down after each person spoke.

McKinney, who pleaded guilty in February, was 16 at the time of the shooting. Even though he was prosecuted as an adult, he could be accepted into a three-year program for juvenile offenders after about 20 years in prison, taking into account time credits he could earn, District Attorney George Brauchler said. After completing that program, he would be released from prison.

Erickson, 19, has pleaded not guilty to all the same charges McKinney originally faced in the shooting. He is scheduled to go on trial in late September. Because he was an adult at the time of the shooting, he would be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted because prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

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    • As bad as the Twinkie defense in the Harvey Milk case. Possibility of parole when he will be 37. State will probably have to pay for gender reassignment. This country is losing its mind. There really are two nations.

  1. You cannot be “transgender” at that age, that is just make believe – the idiot is just an idiot and a murderer – this Erickson character needs to have the death penalty as he truly was the “leader” in this shooting and murder. At the very least Life plus 100 Years with no chance of Parole should be his sentence, or a firing squad consisting of volunteers in a public setting will close this matter. The execution should be publicly shown on all networks and live, with sound! You don’t kill people because you don’t know what gender you are – you only have two simple choices and your DNA defines it clearly! Not a bid deal, you are a man or a woman – accept your fate! You don’t kill and injure others because YOU are confused! All he had to do was go to a shrink and they would help him out, yet he chose to kill and hurt others. Just execute his sorry ass! End his confusion!

    • Go to a shrink and they’d put him/her/whatever on pills that make the dysphoria worse and make him/her/whatever more psychotic. The standard medical practice is to pump “transgender” people full of the hormones of the gender they want to be, instead of the sex that they are. This whole “transgender” thing started in Weimar Germany, btw.

  2. I think telling kids they can be whatever gender they want is very confusing. Allowing children to take hormones to switch genders will excaserbate the issue…If kids under 18 can’t legally get a tattoo, then why are we giving kids hormones? Both will permanently alter their body.

    • Ask yourself why a certain group of people are working overtime to push Transgenderism so hard on everyone, especially kids. Encouraging, or even letting, a child completely ruin their chance of one day having their own children is nothing short of evil.

    • Giving a teenage girl testosterone will make her more aggressive and violent. Most killers are young males. Doesn’t seem like a good idea to pump testosterone into teenagers especially those with mental issues.

      • And despite what we are being told, wanting to cut off your natural business is a sure indication of mental issues.

  3. Cynical Me says:
    At sentencing, make the greatest possible showing of remorse and non-recidivism.

    It’s 10x more important for the judge to believe you mean it than it is for you to really mean it.

  4. Yeah….wtf does this story have to do with ANYTHING?
    A criminal misused a firearm…………. and?

    • Judging from the fastest comments, it’s less about guns and more about feeling smug about bashing trans people.

      I mean, I lived in Seattle’s Capital Hill for 7 years, so I met a lot of nut jobs that are also trans, but their nuttiness has nothing to do with… well.. their nuts.

      • It’s certainly interconnected. Within the trans community, there is a MASSIVE rate of severe, comorbid mental illness beyond just gender dysphoria. By and large, these are not healthy people, and they deserve actual treatment for their underlying issues. Taking someone who is bipolar and has severe repressed trauma from childhood sexual abuse (for example), cutting off their genitals, pumping them full of hormones, and then telling them they’ll be happy (and if they’re not they will be viciously ostracized by their peers) is like putting a bandaid on a cranial gunshot wound and expecting everything to be fine

      • Wrong. There is an extremely high comorbidity rate between other mental illnesses and thinking that society should cater to your fetishes.

        Apologists would say that society drives trans people crazy. Nah. It’s just that crazy people tend to also be ‘trans.’

        And that’s fine… up until the moment they demand that everything revolve around them as if anyone gets to choose how the world looks at them.

      • Well, Gosh, we’re all just SO grateful for you taking the time out of your busy schedule to come here and put on a truly enlightening and Woke presentation of Social-Justice Warrioring and LGBTQ Alliance Posturing.

        Rest assured that your efforts have not been for naught! Each of us here, who prior to your blessed arrival lived in unWoke, craven gender-dysphoria-denigrating darkness deep within our souls, is now a far, FAR better person for your input. We now fully accept that one’s genitalia are completely irrelevant to how one ‘feels,’ and have truly entered a Brave New World where all 57 possible genders can be whatever sex, race, or life form (or mineral, or planet, for that matter) that they choose without fear of scorn or prejudice.

        No, really! I personally have decided that I am a Furry Transgender Female 1953 Buick Skylark Convertible! On Tuesdays, I’m a 1968 IBM Selectric II with a Times New Roman platen ball! I may even become Pluto (either the cartoon dog, or the planet, I’m not sure which) later this week!

        THANK you!


    • Gotta say, easiest fix would be to prohibit insurance from paying for elective surgeries/treatments. Trensgender shit would disappear instantly.

  5. Got this from a poster on Fox news. Says all that needs to be said.
    The Dichotomy of the troubled Liberal Mind: ~ If a dude pretends to be a woman, you are required to pretend with him ~ Somehow it’s un-American and racist for the census to count how many Americans are in America ~ Foreign interference in our elections is bad, but illegal aliens voting in our elections is good. ~ Crowded, violent “protests” are encouraged, but singing in church is a public health violation ~ Sexualizing children is bad, but 11-year-old drag queens are good ~ Illegal aliens aren’t required to show ID, but American citizens can’t buy cough medicine without it. ~ People who have never owned slaves should pay reparations to people who have never been slaves ~ Inflammatory rhetoric is outrageous, but harassing people in restaurants is virtuous. ~ Acknowledging gender is bad, but we have to have a woman for Joe Biden’s V.P. running mate. ~ $5 billion for border security is too expensive, but $1.5 trillion for “free” health care for illegal aliens is not. ~ Believing that ALL LIVES MATTER is racist, but #BlackLivesMatter is celebrated ~ Checking gov’t ID to buy cigarettes is good, but checking gov’t ID at the voting booth is racist xenophobic ~ Liberals say never hold all of groups responsible for the actions of a few – but it’s OK to smear and generalize all police officers because of one cop BTW – Pointing out any of this hypocrisy is racist and xenophobic

    • The country is f’d up beyond repair. It will never be the same. Trump is only a bump on the slide down.

      The takers have outnumbered the makers. We are done. Its been a nice ride.

      • I’m 65. My kids have told my wife and I that they envy us because we will be dead when this turns into Venezuela. I think that was optimistic.

  6. Too bad the cop is didn’t waste him. Would of saved millions and solved his gender dilemma.

  7. Soooo…which prison are they sending this so-called transgender cretin too?!? Giver or taker jail😏The bottom line of the happy agenda is not only tolerance of weirdo behavior but approval! Like when Barry Soetoro lit up the White House with the happy colors…by ONE vote.

    • “Soooo…which prison are they sending this so-called transgender cretin too?!? Giver or taker jail😏”

      I suppose it depends on the state, in some places they go to the biology-gender prison, but in a separate ‘wing’ for the ones that get preyed on…

  8. “Men and Women He created them.”
    Telling boys and girls that their sex is a choice is simply another sign of the times. We have a deep sickness in our culture caused by the fundamental breakdown of the family, the turning away from our Judeo-Christian heritage, and ignorance of the 10 commandments.
    If you want to to continue to have protections for the bill of rights including the 2nd Amendment, look to the role models for your children. If you send your kids to government school prepare for more morphodites, anarchy, and rioting.

  9. Life plus 38 years. So he dies in his cell and you leave him there for another 38 years? Let me guess. He continues to vote democrat for those 38 years.

    • JWM, you and Strych got into a conversation on the ‘timeline’ when things go crazy.

      I missed the previous exchange before that – what’s your prediction for the upcoming chaos?

      • November there will be a right wing backlash at the polls in favor of Trump and law and order. The dems are fractured and they’ve lost control of the antifa and blm wings of their party. There will be a serious shit storm in the blue states and cities and I see that there is a possibility that Trump has to deploy serious numbers of troops to restore order.

        It’s going to be a bumpy ride. We will win in the end because the majority of the lefts foot soldiers are college kids that are more larping than serious. Once they start dying and going to serious jail time it will stop.

        Then we can begin the job of rounding up the ‘brains’ behind this mess. The pols and college ‘professors’ that are sending these deluded fools into the streets as cannon fodder. There has been an ongoing effort to overthrow the legally elected POTUS and they need to answer for that.

        People like miner49er and enuf need an exit strategy to get them out of the country before that happens.

        • I wish I shared your enthusiasm. Trump won the Midwest by the skin of his teeth. He was able to do that, not only because everyone hated Hillary, but they didn’t really take him seriously. They thought they still had the Obama coalition. They’re taking him seriously now. It isn’t just the opposing party with the knives out. The media and the major corporations are all in for Slow Joe as well. They’re pushing the racism angle so they can get blacks to show up to the polls like they did in 2008, even though Joe has a long history in office of NOT helping black people. Trump has already done more for black people in less than four years, than Joe and Obama did in decades, but since when do facts matter?

        • Dude. Thanks almost entirely to the democrats the black demographics are the only one in America that has lost numbers. The margerat sanger plan of genociding the blacks, supported whole heartedly by the dems, is working. The majority of abortions in this country are performed on poc.

          The black voting block is shrinking every day.

  10. Seeing as so many mass shooters are later found to have been obsessively researching and reading about past shooters, this is probably the best message this dirtbag could have put out. I hope he finds some sort of absolution in prison but I think it’s ridiculous that he was given any chance of ever seeing the outside.

    I also find the “I was bullied for being trans :'( ” excuse to be total horse shit. We’re in the middle of an epidemic of teenagers experiencing “rapid onset gender dysphoria” because of social pressures and addiction to the dopamine rush from massive social rewards for announcing the intention to transition. It’s a privileged class and teenagers are lining up to claim that love, attention, and privilege for themselves. Kids today LOVE trans kids.

    • Yeah, I caught that too. School admins take a VERY hard line against bullying of trannies. Everyone else, not so much, but they’re at the top of the intersectional hierarchy (or at least they were; I’d say blacks have that top spot at the moment) and thus are THE most protected class. Schools don’t give a shit about normal kids being bullied, at least not until the victim stands up for himself, then they’ll happily punish him for fighting. But trannies? Don’t even look at them wrong or you might be expelled

      • They can always shave a few dancing angels off the head of that pin. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “black trans lives matter” at a protest (I’ve been to a couple), I’d have enough money buy a lot of ammunition. If there was any on the shelves.

  11. a transgender and a gay shoot up a school and the media is silent.

    Nick Sandmann does NOTHING WRONG except wear a MAGA hat and the media trashes him and Trump 24/7.

    • The good news there is that Nick settled one of his slander lawsuits this week for an undisclosed (but presumably chunky) payout.

      • It was assumed that CNN paid him millions in January.

        This week, we have a court ruling that you can’t create a public figure out of thin air by publicly libeling a private citizen, which greatly tips the scales in Sandmann’s favor, Sandmann turns 18, and WaPo decides the odds are against them and writes him a birthday check. I suspect WaPo might pay him more than CNN.

    • You might have missed the news stories about this, pretty typical of blindly ignorant people. Sad to see so many supposed pro-2A and pro-freedom people are as ridiculous as the hardcore leftists who are trying to take away all of our rights.

      • He’s not finished. He is suing a whole bunch of tabloids and other media, settling one at a time, he’ll probably BE a lawyer by the time he’s done. And how wonderful for him!

  12. Re: “Teachers, parents and students spoke of being unable to sleep and developing anxiety and PTSD after the shooting. ”

    Afghanistan and Iraq veterans have seen worse than a school shooting. Many bear their PTSD silently. Yet, somehow, our veterans can be dissed by MLB and NFL taking a knee.

    If you meet a veteran and they seem to act a bit strange, please treat them kindly.

  13. Here we have a couple of guys who were so demoralized by other people’s calling them ugly names that they decided mass murder was an appropriate response. Whatever happened to the attitude, “I am what I am. If you don’t like it, go fuck yourself.” Didn’t their parents teach them that an asshole’s bad behavior just proves he is an asshole?

    On the opposite side, we have “victims” claiming that their lives have been irrevocably shattered by an incident they survived personally and in which most didn’t lose loved ones. Would they react as strongly to losing a family member or friend to accident or disease?

    What a bunch of pussies independent of gender. All of them need a reality check. A good starting point would be soldiers and civilians who experienced the horror of war and got on with their lives afterward. The pussies need to learn what it was like to hear someone screaming in agony and see their blood and torn body parts all the while knowing that it could be you in the next second.

    • How can any school shooter get parole? Easy…. “blame reassignment” – surely I was justified in the actions I took, being a victim myself, I just wish it hadn’t have been so easy to get and use an evil gun!!! NO ONE should be able to have one of those. Thank you, your honor ” case closed.

  14. SHE. Alec McKinney is a female. She has a vagina, not a penis. She will need to be in 24/7 solitary in the MEN’S prison where she demands to be sent.

  15. was sentenced on Friday to life in prison plus 38 years with the possibility of parole after about two decades behind bars.

    So tired of this nonsense. Don’t call it lifetime plus when he can be out in 20 years. What a fraud on the good people of Colorado. Absurd nonsense.

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