A Colorado teenager who told investigators he opened fire inside his STEM school after facing torment and bullying from classmates over his gender identity apologized to each of his victims before he was sentenced to life behind bars for his role in the deadly shooting.
Alec McKinney, who was born a girl but now identifies as male, was a juvenile when he and fellow classmate Devon Erickson fatally shot one student and wounded eight others inside STEM School Highlands Ranch last year. As a result, the 17-year-old suspect could not face the death penalty in the case.
In his first public comments since the shooting, McKinney acknowledged the pain he caused to students, staff and everyone else who was impacted by the violent attack, ABC News reported.
“I killed their innocence. I killed their ambitions. And I killed their sense of security. I not only physically killed people, I mentally killed people too,” McKinney said.
“I don’t know how to describe the sorrow I feel when I think of the victims. The horror I caused is truly too much for anyone to bear.”
McKinney in February pleaded guilty to 17 counts related to the shooting, which unfolded at the Colorado high school on May 7, 2019. Student Kendrick Castillo, 18, was killed when he rushed the shooters alongside two other students.
His father, John Castillo, was among nearly two dozen teachers, students and family members delivering statements to McKinney, who appeared in court via video due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This killer is a monster. You sit there with crocodile tears down your face? Well scripted,” Castillo said, crying. “I need to tell you something: These are real tears.”
He added that he would never forgive McKinney for his actions and vowed to “fight him to the end.”
“You’ve awakened an activist who fights for safe schools,” the mourning father added.
Castillo’s mother, Maria, was equally emotional during her remarks.
“I’m still waiting for him to come home,” she sobbed. “This evil killer destroyed my family.”
McKinney apologized directly to the Castillos during his 22-minute statement, but also acknowledged that what he’d “done is unforgivable.”
“I don’t deserve leniency, nor forgiveness. I don’t want a lighter sentence,” he added.
Judge Jeffrey Holmes on Friday sentenced McKinney to life in prison, plus 38 years with the possibility of parole.
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