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Guard who disarmed suspect, mistakenly shot 2 students in STEM School attack won’t face jail time

Posted at 10:16 AM, Jan 24, 2020

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — The security guard who fired his gun and mistakenly shot two student bystanders during the May 2019 attack at STEM School Highlands Ranch will complete community service as part of a diversion program and not face jail time, 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May announced on Friday.

Shamson Sundara detained and disarmed one of the alleged shooters during the incident, but he was also prohibited from carrying a weapon on campus, per his employment contract with the school.

Emails obtained by The Colorado Sun show the suburban Denver charter school had requested an unarmed guard from BOSS High Level Protection about a year ago. In a statement, STEM School Highlands Ranch said it didn’t know the guard was armed until the shooting occurred May 7 on the campus that includes students from kindergarten through high school.

After Sundara detained one suspect in the shooting, he saw a person in street clothes round a corner of a hallway and spotted the muzzle of a gun. Sundara fired two shots toward the person, who turned out to be a plainclothes deputy. The shots missed the deputy and went through the wall of a classroom, where they struck two students, May said in a news release.

The students suffered non-life threatening injuries. When other law enforcement officers identified themselves, Sundara complied with their commands, May said.

Part of Sundara's diversion program will "incorporate restorative justice forum with the victims," May said, and the victims and the Douglas County School District were consulted as officials worked to reach the agreement with Sundara.

While Sundara's possession of a weapon at the school violated his contract, Colorado state law allows deadly force if a person "has reasonable ground to believe, and does believe, that he or another person is in imminent danger" of being killed or wounded.

"Although it was illegal for him to have a gun on the premises, our investigation has determined that his actions were in compliance with applicable law," May said.

Sundara has been promoted since the shooting and is now involved in hiring and recruitment with Boss High Level Protection, the president of the company, Grant Whitus, said in an interview Friday. Whitus said he and Sundara were "happy no charges were filed" and that they did not expect them to be filed in the first place. Whitus declined to comment on specifics because of the ongoing cases involving the school shooting suspects. But he said that employees at the company "hail Shamson as a hero."

"The facts are going to come out in the trial. We believe everybody is going to be amazed about what he did, how many lives he saved that day and understand exactly what happened that day," Whitus said.

Whitus said that Sundara, a Marine combat veteran, is a witness for prosecutors in the two suspects' trials, and that the whole story about his actions would come out then.

"Believe me — he wants to tell his story, and when it's all over, he will," Whitus said. "And people will really understand what happened that day."

Kendrick Castillo, 18, was killed and eight other students were injured in the attack. The suspects — two teen students at the school — face dozens of charges, including murder.

READ MORE: Denver7's coverage of the STEM school shooting