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Hundreds of students were bused to the Northridge Recreation Center after a shooting at STEM Highlands Ranch Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. The students were reunited with their parents at the rec center. The alleged gunmen, two students, were arrested as law officers rushed into the school. (John Leyba, Special to The Colorado Sun)

In his second day of testimony, an admitted shooter of the STEM School Highlands Ranch reversed the story he told immediately following the May 7, 2019, attack. 

Alec McKinney, while testifying in the trial against Devon Erickson on Tuesday, relayed a version of events that alleged Erickson propelled the deadly shooting into action. 

“It was (Erickson’s) fault the entire time,” McKinney said during his testimony. “Just in that first interview I wasn’t being completely honest.” 

McKinney pleaded guilty to dozens of charges in 2020 and was sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole after 40 years. During cross examination, Erickson’s defense team implied that McKinney had changed his story in the hopes of getting a reduced sentence. Erickson faces similar charges to McKinney, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and arson.

Opening statements in the case began May 27 and the trial was set to last into late June.  

Julia Stancil, one of Erickson’s attorneys, questioned McKinney about his understanding of the Juveniles Convicted as Adults Program, which allows juvenile offenders to get a chance at being released earlier than their initial sentence. McKinney, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, acknowledged that he knew the program was a possibility for him but said that wasn’t the reason for his change in story.

Instead, McKinney said he was telling this version of events because he was sober and under oath. During his testimony, McKinney, now 18, also contradicted earlier statements to police and medical staff that he heard voices in his head the day of the shooting and was homicidal. 

“The majority of what I said wasn’t truthful,” McKinney said about his statements from 2019.


Elliott Wenzler wrote about politics, water, housing, and other topics for The Colorado Sun from October 2022 through September 2023. She has covered community issues in Colorado since 2019, including for Colorado Community Media. She has been...