Erin Triplett, right, hugs her daughter, who is an eighth grader at STEM Highlands Ranch School after the girl was escorted from the school after two students allegedly shot at least eight other kids there on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. (John Leyba, Special to The Colorado Sun)

This story first appeared in a Colorado Community Media newspaper. Support CCM’s neighborhood news. The Colorado Sun is an owner of CCM.

Mitchell Kraus didn’t know he’d been shot until he’d already run a couple of blocks from STEM School Highlands Ranch on May 7, 2019.

When the student realized something was wrong, he took stock of his body, moving his hand to his back. It came back red with blood.

The next thing he remembers wanting to do was call his mom.

“She picks up the phone and she answers in her cheery voice like everything’s normal,” he said through tears on Friday. “I opened my mouth and the only thing I could manage to say was ‘mom help.’”

Kraus told the story of the shooting — sometimes through deep heaves and sobs — to a jury as a part of the first day of testimony in the trial against Devon Erickson. Erickson faces dozens of charges related to the school shooting from two years ago, which left eight students injured and one, Kendrick Castillo, dead.

Alec McKinney, Erickson’s codefendant, pleaded guilty last year to charges related to his participation in the shooting, including first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole after 40 years.

The rest of the day consisted of testimony from others like Kraus. The prosecution called on several staff members and students of the school to walk the jury through the day of the shooting and how it unfolded from their perspective.


Elliott Wenzler

Elliott Wenzler is a reporter for the Colorado Sun, covering local politics, the state legislature and other topics. She also assists with The Unaffiliated newsletter. Previously, she was a community reporter in Douglas County for Colorado Community Media. She has won awards for her...