Hero Sacrifices His Life to Protect Classmates in School Shooting 3 Days Before Graduating

By Li Yen, Epoch Times
May 9, 2019 Updated: May 9, 2019

Kendrick Ray Castillo was a gentle soul who loved robotics, automobiles, hunting, fishing, cracking goofy jokes, participating in Knights of Columbus fundraisers with his dad, and lending a hand to the elderly in the community. Protecting and helping people was just in his blood.

Unquestionably, the 18-year-old student from STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, could achieve great heights in life with his helpful and kind nature. “He was the best kid in the world,” his dad, John Castillo, said, Denver Post reported.

Tragically, on Tuesday, May 7, just three days before he was about to graduate, he laid down his life to save other students during the shooting that broke out at his school.

According to eyewitnesses, as soon as the gunman burst into the classroom and pulled out the gun, the courageous Kendrick, Brendan Bialy, and Joshua Jones jumped from their seats. Before the gunman was about to shoot, they charged at the gunman, giving their classmates time to run and hide.

A Douglas County, Colo., Sheriffs Department deputy walks past the doors to the STEM Highlands Ranch school early Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo.  (©AP | David Zalubowski)

“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,” classmate Nui Giasolli told TODAY show.

Because of the boys’ incredible act of bravery in the face of a horrific attack, their classmates had the chance to escape. Their quick-thinking action also helped subdue the gunman, preventing more bloodshed. Brendan, who was a close friend of Kendrick for all of high school, said: “So in this happenstance, the absolute legend of the events of yesterday, Kendrick Castillo is the name I think should not go away to the sands of time.”

Students and teachers raise their arms as they exit the scene of a shooting in which at least seven students were injured at the STEM School Highlands Ranch on May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. (©Getty Images | Tom Cooper)
©AP | David Zalubowski

The shooting left eight students injured. The two students who were accused of the shooting, Devon Erickson, 18, and a juvenile girl, were taken into custody.

Sadly, though Brendan and all the other students survived, Kendrick was gunned down and sustained a fatal wound. To protect his classmates, the 18-year-old sacrificed his own life.

Devon Erickson, an accused STEM School shooter, appears at the Douglas County Courthouse in Castle Rock, Colo., Wednesday, May 8, 2019. (©AP | Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

“There is no doubt in my mind that he would have done anything he thought he could have to help anyone,” Cece Bedard, who knew Castillo since elementary school, said, as per Reuters. Whilst friend Aaron Busche said: “He was not afraid to stand up for what he thought was right. The way he died was very much in his nature. He always prioritized others before himself.”

Governor of Colorado Jared Polis honored Kendrick’s bravery in a tweet. “Colorado hero Kendrick Castillo lost his life saving others,” he wrote. “Colorado will always remember the heroism of Kendrick Castillo.”

The coroner even told his dad that his son was a hero for the gunshot he took to save his classmates. Still, the pain of losing Kendrick was beyond words. He had a “hard time accepting” his son was gone forever.

“I wish he had gone and hid,” Castillo said, in an interview with The Denver Post. “But that’s not his character. His character is about protecting people, helping people.” He continued, “My wife and I are in a haze. He was everything to us.”

“We raised him to be selfless,” the distraught father told NBC News. “He never saw that having stuff, being wealthy was important.” Castillo also shared that his son was all set to attend Arapahoe Community College in the fall, and hoped to major in mechanical or electrical engineering.

Our prayers are with Castillo and his wife. Undoubtedly, no words can describe the grief they are going through, but hopefully, they can take comfort in the fact that their son died a hero, and that many lives were saved as a result of his selfless act.

Rest in peace, Kendrick Ray Castillo.

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