A 12-year-old student at the Colorado school where gunmen killed one and wounded eight described the tense moment the shooters approached his classroom while he armed himself and prepared to “go down fighting.”
Sixth-grader Nate Holley told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin that he was in a classroom at STEM School Highlands Ranch on Tuesday, May 7, when gunfire broke out.
“It was really chaotic,” Holley said. “Most of the kids didn’t know what to do.”
“It was incredibly scary during it and at least half the kids in my class broke into tears when it started happening,” Holley continued.
The 12-year-old said he froze as the gunmen “shot out the doors,” while the teacher ushered students to take cover behind a desk and then to the closet.
“I was hiding in the corner, and they were right outside the door. I had my hand on a metal baseball bat just in case,” Holley told CNN. “‘Cause I was gonna go down fighting if I was gonna go down.”
“I was hiding in the corner, and they were right outside the door. I had my hands on a metal baseball bat, just in case, because I was going to go down fighting if I was going to go down.”
— CNN (@CNN) May 8, 2019
Baldwin praised the boy’s courage, saying, “I would have been so, so scared, and can I just say that you are so brave to be standing there with me today. I am in awe of you.”
Two youths are accused of opening fire with handguns on fellow students on Tuesday in two classrooms at the school, located in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, about 25 miles south of Denver.
The gunmen were arrested by police after three students under fire at the school fought back. Joshua Jones and Brendan Bialy both survived, while 18-year-old robotics enthusiast Kendrick Ray Castillo was killed.
The injured includes Jones, who was shot twice, according to a statement released by his family.
Authorities said the actions of Castillo, Bialy, and Jones minimized the bloodshed from Tuesday’s attack.
Shooting Victim Kendrick Castillo Hailed a Hero
Castillo led the charge to tackle one of the gunmen.
“Kendrick went out as a hero,” Bialy told The Associated Press. “He was a foot away from the shooter and instead of running the opposite direction he ran toward it.”
The attackers were identified by law enforcement officials as 18-year-old Devon Erickson and 16-year-old Maya McKinney, also known as Alec. The two allegedly walked into the school through an entrance without metal detectors and opened fire.
Bialy, a U.S. Marines recruit, acknowledged that he was scared but said he wasn’t going to cower for shooters he repeatedly called cowards.
“They lost,” he said of the shooters. “They completely and utterly lost to good people.”
One classmate, Nui Giasolli, described the scene before the shooting.
Nui Giasolli, student inside Colorado STEM school during shooting, tearfully thanks the heroic students who brought down gunman so others could escape pic.twitter.com/2xm7g54dUc
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 8, 2019
“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 going back to his seat,” Giasolli told NBC’s Today show. “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.”
Castillo had three days of school left before his scheduled graduation day on May 20.
The teen’s father, John Castillo, told The Denver Post that he was the “best kid in the world.”
“It doesn’t surprise me. He cared enough about people that he would do something like that, even though it’s against my better judgment,” John said of his only child.
“I wish he had gone and hid,” he said. “But that’s not his character. His character is about protecting people, helping people.”
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
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis commended Castillo’s bravery in a message on Twitter: “Colorado will always remember the heroism of Kendrick Castillo.”
Colorado hero Kendrick Castillo lost his life saving others. Kendrick, 18, lunged towards the gunman and helped prevent an even worse tragedy. Colorado will always remember the heroism of Kendrick Castillo.https://t.co/VhlerQe768
— Jared Polis (@jaredpolis) May 8, 2019
Suspects Appear In Court
The two teenage suspects in Tuesday’s shooting made separate court appearances on Wednesday, a day after their arrest on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.
Douglas County District Judge Theresa Slade, who presided over both proceedings, ordered the two to remain held without bond pending their next court hearings.
The first defendant, Devon Erickson, who prosecutors said they were treating as an adult, sat silently at a small table with his head bowed, hands shackled to his waist, flanked by two defense lawyers as a pair of sheriff’s deputies stood just behind them.
Erickson’s 16-year-old accused accomplice, referred to in court by his lawyer as Alec McKinney, was listed on the court docket by the name Maya Elizabeth McKinney.
The judge refused a defense request to unshackle McKinney for the hearing.
No pleas were entered.
The duo’s next court hearings are set for Friday, when formal charges are expected to be filed.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.