Private security guard detained one suspect in STEM shooting, company's owner says

Contract has been in place for just over a year, owner says

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One security guard from BOSS High Level Protection was at STEM School Highlands Ranch at the time of the shooting that killed one student and injured eight others, the company's owner, Grant Whitus, told Colorado Community Media on May 8.

The guard found and took into custody one of the two suspects, Whitus said.

“My feelings are, if it wasn't for his response and the quick Douglas County Sheriff's response, this could've been one of the worst school shootings ever with two shooters and the number of people in that school,” said Whitus, a former Jefferson County SWAT team leader who responded to the Columbine High School attack in 1999.

STEM, a K-12 charter school, has been contracting with the company for about a year, according to Whitus. He would not say if the guards are armed.

Penny Eucker, STEM's executive director, said the school employs one guard for eight hours a day. The school also has a standing order with the sheriff's office in which, if requested, an off-duty deputy's vehicle will assist for up to three hours a day, Eucker said.

Previously, the school shared a school resource officer with a nearby charter, SkyView Academy, according to Eucker. In the current situation, Eucker said, a familiar security guard walks the entire campus and, when needed, an off-duty deputy assists with traffic.

Whitus' company, comprising men and women with military backgrounds, provides security for “a lot of private schools,” Whitus said. The guard who took down one of the STEM shooters is a Marine Corps combat veteran who previously worked at the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, according to Whitus. He declined to provide the name of the guard.

At a media briefing the morning of May 8, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said he believed one of the suspects was detained by a privately contracted security guard when officers first encountered them in the school.

BOSS, based in Greenwood Village, specializes in security for "schools, religious buildings and businesses of all kinds," according to its website.

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