Colorado Shooting: Sixth-Grader Prepared to ‘Go Down Fighting’ Armed Himself With Baseball Bat

May 9, 2019 Updated: May 9, 2019

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.”

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.”

Parents gather in a circle to pray at a recreation center where students were reunited with their parents after a shooting in Highlands Ranch, Colo., on May 7, 2019. (David Zalubowski/AP Photo)


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.

Colorado shooting
A police officer reassures people waiting outside the STEM School during a shooting incident in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on May 7, 2019. (Shreya Nallapata/via Reuters)

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.”

kendrick castillo
Kendrick Castillo, who was killed during a shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on May 7, 2019. (Rachel Short via AP)

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.

“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.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis commended Castillo’s bravery in a message on Twitter: “Colorado will always remember the heroism of Kendrick Castillo.”

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.

Devon Erickson Colorado shooting
Devon Erickson, 18, at the Douglas County Courthouse where he faces murder and attempted murder charges, in Castle Rock, Colorado, on May 8, 2019. (Joe Amon/The Denver Post/Pool via Reuters)

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.

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