Colorado school gunman gets life with possibility of parole

FILE - In this May 8, 2019, file photo, a Douglas County, Colo., Sheriff's deputy walks past the doors of the STEM Highlands Ranch school in Highlands Ranch, Colo. The younger of two students charged in the shooting at the suburban Denver school in the spring of 2019 is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, July 24, 2020. The decision will come after a hearing in which those impacted by the shooting, including the parents of a student who died trying to stop the attack at STEM School Highlands Ranch, will speak. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - In this May 8, 2019, file photo, a Douglas County, Colo., Sheriff's deputy walks past the doors of the STEM Highlands Ranch school in Highlands Ranch, Colo. The younger of two students charged in the shooting at the suburban Denver school in the spring of 2019 is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, July 24, 2020. The decision will come after a hearing in which those impacted by the shooting, including the parents of a student who died trying to stop the attack at STEM School Highlands Ranch, will speak. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A teenager who told authorities that he launched a fatal shooting attack on his suburban Denver school last year with a classmate because he wanted them to experience trauma like that he had experienced was sentenced on Friday to life in prison plus 38 years with the possibility of parole after about two decades behind bars.

Alec McKinney, 17, apologized to the parents of Kendrick Castillo, who was killed as he tackled one of the gunmen in the attack at STEM School Highlands Ranch, and to each of the eight other students wounded in the attack as well as those traumatized by it.

“I will never repeat these actions ever again because the harm I caused is truly too much for anyone to bear,” McKinney said as he seemed to choke back tears and struggled to breathe.

In his statement, made by video rather than in person because of the coronoavirus pandemic, he noted how each wounded student and their families had been affected, noting how one still has a bullet lodged in his body that requires him to be checked for lead poisoning and how another gave up playing soccer.

McKinney said he did not want leniency and urged anyone planning a school shooting to get help. But he also suggested the shooting was the idea of his alleged conspirator, Devon Erickson. Erickson's lawyers have portrayed McKinney as the leader of the attack who pressured Erickson to join him.

After the shooting, McKinney told investigators that he planned the the attack for weeks and intended to target classmates who repeatedly mocked him because he was transgender, according to court documents.

“He wanted everyone in that school to suffer and realize that the world is a bad place," said an affidavit summing up his statements.

The ripple effects of physical and emotional suffering caused by the shooting was a constant theme throughout the hearing.