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STEM School shooting: Guard was 'instrumental' in taking suspect down

A private security guard is credited with detaining a shooter and handing them over to law enforcement when they arrived, said the COO of the security firm.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — A former Jefferson County Sheriff's Office deputy who was working as a private security officer was "instrumental in taking down one of the shooters," according to Grant Whitus, chief operating officer with BOSS High Level Protection.

That's the security firm hired to handle private security for STEM School Highlands Ranch, where two students opened fire on classmates in two separate locations, killing one and injuring eight, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. 

"[Our guard] confronted the shooter, took the shooter into custody by putting handcuffs on that person and turning that person over to law enforcement when they arrived," Whitus said.

RELATED: 1 student killed, 8 others injured when classmates open fire at STEM School Highlands Ranch

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said the shooting at the school at South Ridgeline Boulevard and Plaza Drive began around 1:50 p.m. Tuesday. STEM School does not have an on-site school resource officer, Spurlock said.

Whitus said one of those shooters was "not being detained" when the security guard got there, "so he detained them."

"Our guard was instrumental in taking down one of the shooters, cuffing that person up and handing that person over to law enforcement agents when they arrived," Whitus said.

RELATED: Suspect in STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting facing 30 counts

RELATED: What is a STEM School?

The guard was also a Marine. He left the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office to pursue a career in the private industry, Whitus said.

"He's also a musician, and he came to work for us, a little more freedom of time, he had his nights open, so he could pursue his passion," Whitus said.

Whitus said BOSS High-Level Protection trains security guards on responding to active school shooters.

RELATED: ‘There was a shooting at my son’s school today’: A STEM School Highlands Ranch dad’s heartbreaking Twitter thread

"We train them in one and two-man response to the active shooter, just like we do law enforcement," Whitus said. "This young gentleman, like I said was a Marine, law enforcement officer, then we trained him in one and two-man response to the active shooter, so he was trained just for an incident like yesterday."

The Douglas County coroner said Wednesday that Kendrick Castillo, 18, was the student who was killed.

RELATED: Student killed at STEM School Highlands Ranch lunged at gunman, classmate says

STEM School Highlands Ranch, located at 8773 S. Ridgeline Blvd. in Highlands Ranch, was founded in 2011 and has grown to more than 1,850 students, according to the school’s website. The school is broken up into three sections: an elementary school, a middle school and a high school.

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