Editor's Note: This story recounts the events of Tuesday, May 7. Wednesday's updates on the aftermath of the shooting can be found here. Our original story continues below.
The family has been notified.
The male suspects, one identified as 18-year-old Devon Erickson, the other as a juvenile whose name has not yet been released, are in custody. No names of the deceased or the injured have been released. "Both of the suspects, we believe, are students of the STEM School" and are uninjured, said Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock.
"We know that two individuals walked into the STEM School, got deep inside the school and engaged students in two separate locations," Spurlock said. "There were a number of students that were shot and injured, almost immediately after the first gunshots were fired."
Eight students were injured and taken to area hospitals; five arrived at Littleton Adventist, two at Sky Ridge Medical Center and one at Children's Hospital South. Two were listed in serious condition, two were listed as stable, one was in good condition and three were released.
The shooting comes nearly three weeks after neighboring Littleton marked the grim 20th anniversary of the Columbine school massacre that killed 13 people. The two schools are separated by about 7 miles in adjacent communities south of Denver. It also comes exactly a week after a gunman killed two students and wounded four at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
In the early briefings for the press, Undersheriff Holly Nicholson-Kluth said a school resource officer and other officers responded to a call of shots fired at 1:53 p.m. Two minutes after the report, deputies arrived and moved in. A sheriff's substation is nearby the school and authorities responded quickly and in force.
"As officers were arriving at the school they could still hear gunshots," Nicholson-Kluth said.
She said the situation started in the middle school and was reported by a school admin. STEM is a public K-12 charter school of more than 1,850 students.
Fourth-grader Anika Erickson said students were put on lockdown and did what they’ve done during drills. She said the door was locked and lights turned off.
“It was a little scary but as long as you know what’s going on I mostly stuck to my school work,” she said.
Her mom, Sara Erickson, said she found out what was happening from the news and not from the school district.
The school is secure and no third suspect — a rumor from earlier — has been found. Spurlock said the interior crime scene will be handled by the FBI. A vehicle belonging to one of the suspects is still at the school and authorities are obtaining warrants to search it and the suspects' homes.
"I have to believe that the quick response of the officers that got inside that school helped save lives," Spurlock said.
The school is located at 8773 South Ridgeline Blvd., Highlands Ranch. Parents of STEM School students were directed to Northridge Rec Center at 8800 South Broadway to pick up their children.
Nervous parents rushed to Northridge after it was named as the reunification site, parking cars on the side of the road and jumping out to run inside. Groups of school buses dropped children off at the rec center into the early evening.
Fernando Montoya Delgado got a call that his son, a senior at the school, had been shot three times. He was told that his son would be OK, and he went to the rec center to wait for his daughter, a 7th grader.
"It's stressful and pretty hard," he said. "Nobody deserves this, no matter who you are."
Parents leaving the rec center had tears in their eyes and held their children closely.
The school will be closed for the rest of the week, according to a note posted to social media signed by Douglas County School District Superintendent Thomas Tucker. Crisis support will be available for students, faculty and staff at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch.
"Knowing what to say to your child is often difficult," the note said.
"Feelings can be especially overwhelming at a time like this. There is no right way to express the sadness, grief and confusion that students will feel when they encounter a tragedy. For example, students may react by needing more sleep or being more emotional. On the other hand, a student may not react outwardly at all. Students can be particularly vulnerable if this event reminds them about another loss or sadness in their own lives."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.