It was May 7, the last day of the school. Everyone was gearing up for a summer vacation, gleaming smiles all around. So was Kendrick Castillo, the 18-year old from STEM Highlands Ranch school. But unlike others, he wouldn’t live to enjoy another summer vacation.
On that fateful day, Castillo instead hurled himself in front of the shooter and took serious bullet wounds making sure that others were safe. He reduced the damage to a considerable extent with him being the only one to have died in the shooting. Had he not intervened, the number of dead would have been more.
Castillo was one of nine students injured after shots were fired inside the K-12 STEM school in Douglas County, Colorado. Castillo’s father, John Castillo, who confirmed that his son’s death always advised Kendrick never to be a hero if he’s ever in a mass shooting situation. But Kendrick was not trying to be a hero, he was trying to save his friends.
He told his son was a hero. “I want people to know about him,” John Castillo said through tears.
Friend and classmate Kevin Cole said, “Kendrick was one of the nicest people at that school by far, he always helped others whether he knew them or not. He didn’t have a secret motive … It didn’t matter if he knew them personally if they were new students he was always that person who was there to help.” Cole says that it was not surprising to see him lunge towards the shooter to save people he barely knew.
Castillo was set for a career in Robotics. He had been a four-year member of the school’s robotics team and had interned at several tech companies as found out from his LinkedIn profile. Rachel Short of Bacara USA, a manufacturing business where Castillo began an internship last year, said his exceptional performance even earned him a part-time job.
The two suspects in custody were both students at the school. Police took into custody two suspects: 18- year-old Devon Erickson and a younger student whom police said they initially misidentified as a boy but later realized was a girl.