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Crime and Courts

STEM School Highlands Ranch security guard reaches agreement with DA for firing gun, wounding students

Shamson Sundara was not supposed to have a gun on campus. He fired two rounds during the May 7 attack on the school.

A combined SWAT team waits outside the middle school entrance at STEM School Highlands Ranch after a shooting that killed one and wounded eight students. (John Leyba, Special to The Colorado Sun)
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The private security guard credited with helping stop the deadly May attack at STEM School Highlands Ranch will not be prosecuted for firing two rounds from a concealed gun he wasn’t supposed to have on campus during the attack. 

An agreement with prosecutors will allow Shamson Sundara to avoid criminal sanctions, but he must complete community service and comply with other undisclosed conditions of the deal.

Sundara mistakenly fired the bullets at a responding sheriff’s deputy, but missed and struck a pair of students in a classroom. Their injuries were not life threatening.

The Colorado Sun first revealed over the summer, through a series of open records requests, that under the agreement between STEM School and his employer, BOSS High Level Security, Sundara was not supposed to be armed.

Authorities said Sundara apprehended one of the two suspected shooters in the May 7 attack, in which 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo was killed and eight others were wounded. Sundara was not charged with a criminal offense. Prosecutors referred to the agreement as a deferred action.

MORE: STEM School guard who accidentally shot student while trying to stop May attack wasn’t supposed to be armed

“It should be noted that this agreement was reached in consultation with the injured victims and their families, law enforcement and the Douglas County School District,” the office of 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May, based in Colorado Springs, said on Twitter. “Mr. Sundara will also complete 50 hours of community service and has agreed to comply with any conditions required by the court. Upon successful completion of all terms and conditions, this diversion will be closed.”

May’s office said it was unlawful for Sundara to have the gun on the campus, but that his decision to fire his gun was authorized because of the deadly attack that was unfolding. 

May’s office was appointed a special prosecutor in the case. 

In the days after the shooting, reports surfaced that Sundara may have fired his gun at Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies responding to the STEM School shooting and that authorities were probing whether any students might have been struck by that gunfire. 

18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, whose office is overseeing the prosecution of the two shooters, appointed May’s office to review the guard’s actions in the shooting since Brauchler’s staff is prosecuting the two alleged shooters.

“This is a witness in the case,” Brauchler said of the guard. “I felt like, out of an abundance of caution, the facts related to the security guard needed to be addressed by a separate prosecutor.”

Because he is a primary witness in the case, Sundara cannot comment publicly, said Grant Whitus president of BOSS High Level Security.

But Whitus called Sundara, a former sheriff’s deputy and a combat veteran, a hero and said he did exactly the right thing during the May 7 attack. He said Sundara described the scene as being more complex and chaotic than combat.

“They will understand and hail Shamsun as a hero,” Whitus said. He declined to comment on the legality of Sundara carrying a concealed weapon on campus, citing ongoing civil litigation.

Sundara has been promoted to head of recruitment for the Greenwood Village-based company.

The cases against the alleged shooters, 16-year-old Alec McKinney and 18-year-old Devon Erickson, are making their way through the court system. Brauchler charged McKinney as an adult.

They are accused of of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, interference with school staff and burglary. 


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