Devon Erickson and Maya “Alec” McKinney are the two students who opened fire on classmates at the STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado on Tuesday afternoon.
That is about the extent of the details the mainstream media has provided on the pair, even though many more details about them are available. In the past, the media has aggressively pursued and reported any possible detail about past school shooters, so their relative silence in this case has not gone unnoticed.
Some say the media is ignoring these facts because the shooters did not fit a preferred narrative of being right-wing gun enthusiasts. The under-reported details include the personal background of the suspects and the way they obtained the guns used in the attack.
Many of the known details on the shooters have been reported by smaller, independent media sources, and by local news outlets.
According to the Daily Mail, the two students did not use “long guns,” what the media erroneously refers to as “assault rifles,” in the attack. They also did not obtain them easily or legally: Devon Erickson stole two handguns from his parents by breaking into a locked gun cabinet. The parents bought the guns legally and took efforts to secure the guns, but could not stop their son, who was determined to get inside the locked cabinet. Erickson also stole a rifle from the cabinet, but did not use it in the shooting.
Like many previous schools shooters, both suspects have shown evidence of mental instability. According to Gazette.com, Erickson in particular not only posted several hate-filled posts on social media, he railed against Christians and Donald Trump. A post on his Facebook page (which has now been taken down) stated “You know what I hate? All these Christians who hate gays,” as he took issue with the Bible’s stand on homosexuality.
In 2016, Erickson shared a video of NBC late night talk show host Seth Myers mocking President Donald Trump, and shared a meme from Occupy Democrats praising former President Barack Obama.
The suspect some media outlets identify as Alec McKinney is actually Maya McKinney, a 16-year-old female who identifies as male. Maya is reportedly undergoing the transition from female to male, but that is not confirmed. Local police initially reported McKinney was a male based on her looks, but now identify her as female, which angered transgender activists on social media. “Alec is not a girl,” one personal friend protested on Instagram.
McKinney was reportedly upset that the school would not identify her as male, and the shooting may have been in retaliation. The motive, however, has not been confirmed.
A Denver-area news station reported that the teens wrote “666” and “F**k Society” on the car of Erickson’s parents on the morning of the shooting, after they broke into their gun cabinet.
Some of the suspects’ friends have taken to social media to insist they are the victims, who suffer from mental illness. “They did a horrible thing, but please, please recognize that mental health awareness is important,” one wrote on Instagram. “Supporting LGBT youth is important. They didn’t get the help they needed, and they NEEDED it.”
In this video, provided by Fox 10 in Phoenix, Devon Erickson appears in court and is charged with capital murder and multiple counts of attempted murder. Maya McKinney is a juvenile, and will likely not have her court appearance televised.
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