People across the country have shouted their praises for 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo today, the brave young boy who sacrificed his life in Tuesday’s shooting at STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
The senior who was just three days shy of graduating high school, reportedly lunged at the gunman who entered his 9th-period classroom, saving the lives of his surrounding classmates.
STEM student Nui Giasolli recalled the horrific events of yesterday’s shooting in an interview with TODAY, detailing Kendrick’s final act of courage:
“The shooter came in late. He walked to the other side of the classroom where we also had another door, and he opened the door. He walked back as if he was gonna go back to his seat. Then he walked back to the door and he closed it. The next thing I know he’s pulling a gun and he’s telling nobody to move, and that’s when Kendrick lunged at him and he shot Kendrick, giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks to get ourselves safe and to run across the room to escape.”
Thanks to his efforts to thwart the gunman’s attack, Kendrick was the sole fatality in the shooting.
Kendrick’s father, John Castillo, spoke to the media Wednesday morning about his son’s life-saving sacrifice and unparalleled character.
“He was the best kid in the world,” said Castillo through a stream of tears.
This is 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo. He was the young man killed in the #STEMshooting yesterday.
We’re told he was passionate about technology, on the school’s robotics team, and set to graduate in just 3 days. Sending his family so much love during this time. 🙏🏽 @CBSDenver pic.twitter.com/QYalFnsCom
— Mekialaya White (@Mekialaya) May 8, 2019
While proud of Kendrick’s decision to risk his own life in the face of danger, Castillo was admittedly heartbroken that he did not run for cover like his classmates.
“I wish he had gone and hid,” [sic] said the grief-stricken father, “but that’s not his character. His character is about protecting people, helping people.”
He shared that he was not the least bit shocked that Kendrick would go to those lengths for the sake of others, whether they be strangers, acquaintances, or close friends.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Castillo. “He cared enough about people that he would do something like that, even though it’s against my better judgment.”
Still, he confessed that it was a hard pill for him to swallow, adding “I had a hard time accepting that.”
“My wife and I are in a haze,” said Castillo. “He was everything to us.”
The robotics aficionado, and lover of cars, fishing, hunting, and helping those in need, died the way that he lived — in selfless service.
Cece Bedard spent a great deal of time with Kendrick throughout the course of their childhood, with their dads taking them along to Knights of Columbus meetings.
Bedard shared that Kendrick immediately adhered to the organization’s creed to help others, and clearly did so until his dying day.
“He told me he wanted to be a Knights of Columbus because he wanted to help not only people but his community,” Bedard told the Denver Post. “He was the bravest soul I’ve ever met and never even cared what others thought because he was too busy finding ways to make you smile.”