On Wednesday, the student identified as the second gunman who allegedly opened fire on students appeared in court. Alec McKinney was said to have entered STEM School Highlands Ranch along with Devon Erickson, a friend and the other identified shooter, and is accused of killing one classmate and injuring eight more on Tuesday.
The shooting took place at a high school in Denver. Authorities initially stated that McKinney was male, based on his appearance. However, they later described McKinney as a female juvenile named Maya.
Friends of McKinney have come forward and asserted that McKinney identifies as male and prefers to go by the name “Alec.” According to a report by the Daily Mail, McKinney is “in the processes of transitioning from female to male.”
Sheriff Tony Spurlock has not confirmed that McKinney is transgender.
“Right now, we are identifying the individual as a female, because that’s where we’re at,” said Spurlock. “We originally thought the juvenile was a male by appearance.”
McKinney’s attorney, during the court appearance on Wednesday, stated that McKinney prefers the pronoun “he.”
Friends of McKinney have provided more information about the accused teen on social media, expressing their opinions about law enforcement referring to McKinney as female and adding that he was struggling with mental health issues.
One friend wrote on Instagram: “Nothing that Alec and Devon did can be condoned, and they can’t be defended. Their actions were terrible. But Alec is not a girl.”
“He at least deserves that respect,” the post continued. “And I am so deeply sorry to anyone affected by their actions. Things like this can be prevented and they aren’t. This is not okay.”
Later, that same friend went to McKinney’s Instagram page and discussed how both McKinney and Erickson were troubled individuals.
“Devon did not do what he did because he’s a liberal, or to make a statement,” the friend wrote. “He did it due to internal struggles. They’re both struggling with mental health issues and this is a time for awareness.”
“Alec did not do this because he’s trans,” the friend continued, “but had people supported him in the way that he needed and deserved, he would not have struggled so much that he got pushed over the edge.”
“They did a horrible thing, but please, please recognize that mental health awareness is important. Supporting LGBT youth is important. They didn’t get the help they needed, and they NEEDED it.”
On Wednesday, Erickson, 18, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kendrick Castillo, an 18-year-old senior who was just three days away from graduating. Erickson also faces dozens of additional attempted murder counts. A plea was not entered during his court appearance, and he is set to return to court on Friday.
During his court appearance on Wednesday, McKinney waived the reading of formal charges and is being held without bond.