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'How the hell am I going to get out of here': Former STEM student describes shooting inside her classroom

A student and a crime scene investigator testified Wednesday during the fourth day of the trial.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — Two witnesses took the stand Wednesday morning during the fourth day of the trial for the suspect accused of carrying out a deadly attack at STEM School Highlands Ranch just over two years ago.

Kendrick Castillo, a senior at the school, was killed in the May 7, 2019 shooting, when he lunged at the suspect after he entered classroom 107 with a gun.

 Several other students were wounded.

>The video above is from the first day of witness testimony at the trial

RELATED: Video shows STEM school shooting suspect's demeanor immediately after shooting

The first witness on Wednesday was Tuscany Silberstein, who's now 20, but was a senior at STEM School Highlands Ranch in 2019. Silberstein, who goes by Nui, was inside classroom 107 on the day of the shooting.

She recalled on the stand that Devon Erickson entered class late that day and said he "wasn't looking good." The next thing she knew, she said Erickson had pulled out a gun and was pointing it around. She like others who testified before her, said she heard Erickson say "nobody <expletive> move." She recalled that his voice was "stern" and testified that he said it in a way to get attention.

Credit: KUSA
Nui Silberstein testifies

In a matter of seconds, she said she saw Kendrick lunge toward Erickson and heard gunshots. She testified that everything happened fast and that she wasn't sure if the gunshots were before, during or after, Kendrick made contact with Erickson.

She said her first thoughts, were "how can this be happening" and then her thoughts went to her brother who was also a student at the school. Finally, she said, she thought, "how the hell am I going to get out of here?"

She said another student pulled her under a table in the classroom she said and that's where they stayed briefly before running out of the classroom. She noted, she had to step over Kendrick, who was injured on the floor, in order to leave. 

The second witness of the day was Theresa Rhinehart who is a crime scene investigator with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office (DCSO). She testified that she spent several days at the school photographing, documenting, and collecting evidence. 

Credit: KUSA
Theresa Rhinehart with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office testifies.

She described how items were photographed in their original locations before being moved. 

Among the items she documented and collected are:

  • A long gun (rifle) which was originally located in a guitar case
  • A guitar case
  • 2 handguns
  • Spent shell casings
  • Ammunition that was originally in the guitar case
  • A backpack that had an empty ammunition box inside
  • Two cellphones
  • A bullet that had been lodged in the door of classroom 107
  • A bullet that had pierced the ceiling of one of the classrooms
Credit: KUSA
A crime scene photo of items found in a guitar case.

The last items she discussed during her testimony on Wednesday were two shirts that were found crumpled in the hallway of the school. She said the shirts, a maroon T-shirt with Carhart written on it and a blue hooded sweatshirt belonged to Kendrick.

She held up both shirts, which are now preserved in plastic evidence bags to the jury. Rhinehart said both had "red stains" on them and holes.

When the shirts were shown, Kendrick's mother, who was seated in the front row next to Kendrick's dad became visibly upset. She was comforted by her husband before she became overcome with emotion and left the courtroom sobbing loudly.

Erickson pleaded not guilty in January 2020. His trial was originally scheduled for last year but it was delayed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He faces 46 counts including:

  • Two counts of first-degree murder
  • One count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder 
  • 31 counts of attempted first-degree murder

His trial is expected to last a month.

RELATED: Younger STEM School shooter sentenced to life with parole plus 38 years

The second suspect, Alec McKinney already pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced to life in prison but will be eligible for parole because he was a juvenile when the crime occurred.

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