“They immediately engaged the suspects and started rescuing the children who were injured.”
Authorities investigating a Tuesday shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado expressed confusion in identifying the gender of a transgender suspect.
Officials appeared to be declining to use the preferred pronouns of the suspect, who apparently identifies as male but was born biologically female.
“We originally thought that we had a juvenile male in custody but through our interviews yesterday late afternoon determined that we have a juvenile female that is in custody right now who is the other suspect,” Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock told reporters at a Wednesday morning press conference.
“Right now, we are identifying the individual as a female, because that’s where we’re at,” he said. “We originally thought the juvenile was a male by appearance.”
A local ABC affiliate reported that the minor, suspected of aiding 18-year-old Devin Erickson in committing the shooting that left one student dead and eight injured, is a transgender male undergoing a female to male gender transition.
Details are still emerging about Erickson, the named suspect in the shooting. According to Spurlock, two handguns were used during the incident, although police also recovered a rifle. He also said police responded to the shooting in under two minutes.
“They immediately engaged the suspects and started rescuing the children who were injured,” Spurlock said.
The sheriff’s office announced late Tuesday that it would not be providing further information on Erickson because “we still have interviews to conduct and we want to make sure we have the most accurate information.”
Local news outlets reported that Erickson does not have a criminal record. However, the young man has a well-documented record of anti-conservative activism on social media.
Erickson, a registered Democrat who expressed support for LGBT rights, said on Facebook in 2014 that he hated Christians for their beliefs about homosexuality.
“You know what I hate? All these Christians who hate gays, yet in the bible, it says in Deuteronomy 17:12-13, if someone doesn’t do what their priest tells them to do, they are supposed to die. It has plenty of crazy stuff like that. But all they get out of it is ‘ewwwwww gays,’” he said.
In 2015, Erickson shared a post from the left-wing Occupy Democrats Facebook page praising then-President Barack Obama. In 2016, he shared a video of NBC talk show host Seth Meyers delivering one of his many monologues criticizing President Donald Trump.
Erickson is expected in court Wednesday afternoon.