STEM Highlands Ranch
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
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By Martha Bellisle, AP

A security guard who accidentally injured two students while trying to stop a mass shooting at a school in a Denver suburb will not be criminally charged, but must complete community service, a special prosecutor said Friday.

“Although it was illegal for him to have a gun on the premises, our investigation has determined that his actions were in compliance with applicable law,” said Lee Richards, spokeswoman for special prosecutor Dan May, who investigated the actions of guard Shamson Sundara.

On May 7, 2019, two teenagers brought firearms to the STEM School Highlands Ranch and opened fire, killing one student and [wounding] eight other people.

Sundara, a security guard hired by the school, responded to the shooting by detaining and disarming one of the alleged shooters in a school hallway, “possibly preventing further injury and loss of life,” Richards said.

After stopping the suspect, Sundara saw a person in street clothes round the corner and then saw the muzzle of a gun, Richards said.

“Sundara fired two shots in the direction of the gun,” Richards said. “Although both shots missed the subject, who turned out to be a law enforcement officer, they went through the wall of a classroom where students were gathered.

“Two students were struck, sustaining non-life threatening injuries.”

The officer Sundara fired at wasn’t hit by gunfire.

The case against the suspected shooters is pending, but the investigation into Sundara’s actions concluded with an agreement reached in consultation with the injured students, their families, law enforcement and the Douglas County School District.

Sundara, a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan, won’t be charged because under Colorado law, “deadly physical force may be used” if a person believes they are in imminent danger of being killed or injured, Richards said.

Under the agreement, Sundara will enter a program that includes participating in a forum with the victims and complete 50 hours of community service, she said. Once he completes all of the elements of the program, his case will be closed, Richards said.

Sundara was promoted by his employer, BOSS High Level Protection, after the shooting, said Grant Whitus, the company’s chief operating officer.

“I’ve been through two school shootings and I understand how difficult they are,” Whitus said. “We stand behind him 100%.”

Whitus said Sundara is unable to make any public statements because he’s a “key witness” in the criminal case against the two alleged shooters.

“There was a huge outcry by parents after the shooting,” Whitus said. “They believed in him. They understood what he did. We treat him as a hero and some day everyone else will when the facts come out.”

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  1. This was the shooting where it was two LGBT kids who were the attackers and used handguns, not “assault weapons.”

    You can tell, because the article carefully doesn’t mention that background.

  2. the security guard should get the public service award …the gun-free zone is nothing but a ‘HERE IS A FREE-FIRE-ZONE WHERE NO ONE IS ARMED SIGN this is the one most stupid signs that a school can have. but the number of socialist -marxist propaganda outlets that put their time there indoctrinating the kids NEGATES THEM BEING ARMED.

  3. Wish I understood what I know about this.

    In one venue, like fiction, we applaud such actions as necessary, but unfortunate; good on the whole. In such condition, we would not want a “hero” punished for doing the greater good, even at the expense of collateral damage.

    But as gun owners steeped in the Four Laws, are we not obligated to object to the outcome reported? The security guard was in violation of his contract, and he clearly did not follow Rule Four. Notwithstanding there is still a civil price that can be exacted, the report indicates the security officer misidentified the threat (thought a LEO was a bad guy), and put bullets elsewhere but on the target.

    Is this another “gimme” for LE (of a sort), that would not extend to POTG?

    • Life can be messy and things aren’t always as easy as they are when you’re plinking at the gun range.

      • Jack Wilson sure took his time and followed the rules even after his friends were murdered in front of him and a shot hit the wall next to him.

        • Perhaps he sucks, perhaps Jack doesn’t. Or maybe the situation didn’t play out exactly the same because it wasn’t the same.

          All scenarios are unique.

          In all of these incidents, no one involved can say that they have done the exact thing a hundred times prior, it’s almost always the first time and if you’re lucky, the good guys will have at least some similar experience to draw on.

          As stated above, life’s messy.

        • Jack Wilson performed outstandingly when the shooting started. Unfortunately, he and the rest of the security team failed in not confronting the guy who was wearing a wig, a fake beard and had his hoodie pulled over his head in a church service. And because they didn’t confront him sooner 2 church memebers died and Mr. Wilson had to shoot the bad guy. My church would not allow that type of behavior and garb without confronting that person.

        • Yeah, what Texican said.

          Plus both Wilson and the first guy to get shot had an appallingly slow draw time. Not trying to criticize, but please practice practice practice in all the outfits you wear. Practice drawing seated. Practice drawing in a vehicle.

          The man is a hero. He did a great thing under extreme circumstances. But we should not shy away from looking at how we can improve.

        • Re: Texican and Pirate.
          You Monday morning quarterbacks are fuk’n disgusting. You weren’t there and in their shoes so shut the f up with the criticism.

    • Sammy – the serious fail was by the ” who turned out to be a law enforcement officer” who went charging in while head still up butt.

      • Oh, “Wow” is all I can say. If he had stayed outside, you would have criticized him for not going towards the gunfire (think Broward County). In this case, the LEO immediately goes towards the sound of the gunshots and his “head still up butt.”

        Make up your mind. You weren’t there and don’t know what it looked like to Sundara or the deputy. Face it, you just hate cops. At least be honest about it. If the 2 roles had been switched, and it was the LEO that saw the guard and fired 2 shots (hitting the innocent bystanders), you would be criticizing the LEO and praising the guard.

        The fact is that Sundara was the first one there, detained the shooters, and got surprised by another muzzle of an LEO running towards the gunshots. In my book, they are both hero’s. The fact is that the plainclothes deputy had presence of mind to recognize it was a security guard and DIDN’T shoot him! Doesn’t sound like “head still up butt” to me…

    • It depends on how you want to parse it.

      In legal philosophy there’s a sub-set of Consequentialism known as Utilitarianism which holds that an action is permissible if it produces a better outcome than any other action one could take. Usually Utilitarianists refer to the outcome as “happiness” or “suffering”.

      A permissible action need not produce happiness. In fact it can produce nothing but suffering. The action however must produce the maximum amount of net happiness. This means that an action can produce more suffering than it does happiness but is still acceptable if is the action that minimizes suffering and maximizes happiness.

      IOW if the action produces suffering and detracts from happiness this doesn’t make the action wrong provided that other courses of action would have produced more suffering or less happiness.

      Homie may not have done everything “right” and may not have followed the letter of the law but a Utilitarianist legal mind doesn’t much care about those things. Such a mind answers the question of “Should you kill one person to save multiple people?” with “All things being equal, yes. Always.” because one death produces less suffering than more than one death.

      So, would it extend to POTG? That depends on what school of legal philosophy your DA prefers. Utilitarians will say this guy is good to go. Deontologists will say “It depends on exact circumstances” and parse those based on their preferred Deontological theory like Kantian Ethics, Rights Theory etc.. Virtue Ethicists would debate if his actions were those of a virtuous man or a vicious man and then, having arrived at a conclusion make a decision accordingly.

    • Sounds like he saw a muzzle pop around a corner and laid down some suppressive fire. Not all bullets are fired with the intent of hitting a target.

    • “The security guard was in violation of his contract . . .” Fog of war. You’d be surprised at just who carries in supposedly “gun-free” areas. At my school the criminal justice cops, prosecutors, and judges all carried. Several faculty members also very discretely carried guns. The school administrators knew who was coming to school armed and tacitly approved of our “no show, no say” rule. Gun-free zones are dangerous places.

    • “The security guard was in violation of his contract, and he clearly did not follow Rule Four.”

      My reading is that he used the gun he took off the student he dis-armed. (Perhaps I’m mistaken). If so, then he can’t be held to be in violation of his contract nor his violation of any law forbidding him from being armed.

      Having disarmed the student what choice did he have? Return the gun to the student? Drop the gun on the floor in a school building? Take custody of the arm? The principle of “the lesser of two evils” compels the law to excuse his unauthorized possession of the gun under these circumstances.

      As to “knowing your target and what is beyond”, this 4th Rule applies in both self-defense and non-SD scenarios. Nevertheless, in a SD circumstance one is not legally held to be correct; one is – instead – held to a “reasonable man” standard.

      Suppose a non-SD scenario. A hunter thinks he spots a deer and fires. He is mistaken. He wasn’t dying of hunger at the time; he merely wanted to bag his limit. The standard applicable to him is exceedingly high. He would be excused of killing another human only if that human were dressed in a deer costume (in hunting grounds during open season).

      This Marine had just disarmed a student in a school shooting incident. A man wearing civilian clothing presenting a gun rounds the corner. From the brief description it seems like a reasonable and prudent man under such circumstances would recognize him to be a threat to life or limb.

  4. I would rather have hurt kids, THAN FUCKING DEAD KIDS ! Give that security guard an award for his efforts !!

    • A teen boy was the one that stopped the shooting. He is the hero that died. His name is Kendrick Castillo. The guard arrived after the fact.

      The guard was not supposed to be armed because the school didn’t want a guard to accidentally shoot the kids. Well, he shot two kids when trying to shoot a grown woman who works for the Sheriff’s office. Yet his boss promoted him into a position where he is in charge of hiring.

      The guy shouldn’t have been promoted for doing something wrong.

      • I have to ask are you okay with asking a man to risk his life but refusing to give him the tools to defend himself and others? You might hurt some one while others are killing folks.

        • How are security guards risking their lives exactly? Even in such unique circumstances, do you have examples of security guards getting killed during a mass shooting?

      • Kendrick and his classmates stopped the cis-male in a classroom. I believe Sundara may have stopped the trans-male since the article says he disarmed a shooter in a hallway. I’ve never seen an account of how she/b/b/bhe was stopped, but somebody did. If it was the police, they would have been trumpeting their accomplishment.

      • Oh, so you are saying he did NOT detain and disarm one of the shooters.

        Sue the school for having thin walls. This man is a hero. War is messy.

      • People seem to be talking as if the security guard had a gun *before* taking one from one of the killers. Is this a fact? Because the article did not say. It did say that he seemed to have done what would be expected, so I assumed he fired the gun he took in disarming his captive.

  5. “possibly preventing further injury and loss of life,” Richards said.

    Ok, maybe that’s right, I don’t know. But if it was a police officer who did something similar I feel they would have given him an award and gloated about how his actions undoubtedly saved lives.

      • Tom, I wouldn’t jump so quick on the mag dump and cops as a universal. In this case, the plainclothes deputy WHO GO SHOT AT didn’t fire back when she realized it was the guard that shot at her.

  6. BS. He killed one of the shooters and was able to restrain the second one. He mistakenly fired at the plain clothes policeman and missed. Rounds over penetrated and injured kids in another room. So fix that, and figure out why he misidentified the cop – maybe it was more the cop’s fault.

    • Just an FYI, neither shooter was shot during the incident. The two shooters were in separate locations of the school. Erickson (shooter 1) was in the high school and immediately stopped by Kendrick Castillo (who was shot and killed tackling Erickson), Joshua Jones (who was shot twice during the encounter), and Brendan Bialy (who was credited with wrestling the gun away from Erickson).

      McKinney was in the middle school section and wounded 5 kids. She (who tries to identify as a he) was subdued by Sundara (the guard).

      I just put this out here because both are waiting to stand trial. McKinney was 16 at the time of the shooting. She has been charged as an adult, but she can only get 40 years to life since she was a juvenile at the time of the shooting.

      Erickson is scheduled for trial in May. They still haven’t decided if they are going to seek the death penalty, but in my opinion, death penalty cases in Colorado are now pointless since it won’t be enforced and we now have Polis as governor.

      I just wanted to put out a few relevant facts about this incident. Maybe it will help clarify the chaotic dynamics of the situation. Two active shooters in two different locations…

  7. Cannot second guess the security guard. All I can say is that if the 2 juveniles were not trying to kill others, this would not have happened.

  8. I always love to read the gun range warriors.Forget the outcome, they always have something to criticize. And you know you would do well in a similar situation because…..? Right, you have no clue, but you surely like to act as if you’ve been there, done that.

    • Precisely….guys commenting whose knowledge of weapons and tactics come mainly from reading comments on gun forums, but who have zero training in weapons and tactics. They don’t realize how badly they stick out like sore thumbs, so it’s kind of enjoyable to read their pontifications.

  9. That’s what would probably happen if the average TTAG keyboard warrior intervened in a mass shooting, spray and pray. A lot of you here are desperate for some action, you’d be more than happy to empty mags in the general direction of the threat (kind of), while trying to catch your breath. Yeah I know, me too I am a former this and that, I can hit my paper target blablabla. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

  10. I support the security guard’s actions, but this quote makes no sense:

    ““Although it was illegal for him to have a gun on the premises, our investigation has determined that his actions were in compliance with applicable law,” “

    So was it illegal or legal for him to have a gun at the school? Legal doublespeak. Are security guards now permitted to have weapons at schools in Colorado?

    • Ragnar, the way the statute reads is that firearms are prohibited in public K-12 institutions unless authorized by the school (when it comes to guard positions). There are other exceptions (such as school-sanctioned activities, school instruction, etc.). Since the school didn’t authorize him to carry a firearm, he was in violation of the law. A CCW permit doesn’t allow an individual to carry on a K-12 campus in CO. Public colleges/universities are now different since 2012. CCW permits extend to higher education (a good thing). Hopefully one day they will to K-12 institutions as well.

      Since the school didn’t authorize him to carry in an official capacity, he was in violation of the statute.

      Hope this helps clarify the confusing reporting!

      • Moreover, the fact that it was illegal for him to possess the gun in school is mitigated by the fact that he was only in possession as a consequence of disarming the perpetrator.

        The doctrine of lesser evils excuses his violation. He had no viable option but to possess the gun under these circumstances.

      • He took a gun from the student. What makes you think he was previously carrying one, illegally or not?

  11. I’ve read several articles on this matter and still am not sure if he used a gun he took from the bad guy or if he had his own. Statements from the DA make is sound like he had a gun and they’re not going to prosecute for it, but it’s vague.

    In any case, it was a pretty good result but two things to remember: 1, in a situation like this you need to be identifying a threat not just by the fact that the person is armed. 2, the rule of not shooting unless you know who is beyond your target cannot apply in a gunfight because it is often impossible to know- i.e. if there is a wall there.

  12. I am still trying to figure out that if he is not charged with anything, why does he have to complete community service? Is that not punishment? Does not sound kosher. He should have told them to pound sand and take it to trial, he would be acquitted.

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