By: Miranda Knowles
On May 7, the Highlands Ranch community gathered together as they remember the ultimate sacrifice that Kendrick Castillo made for his classmates. Several of his former classmates left him flowers and spoke to his parents, John and Maria Castillo, about their gratitude for Kendrick.
Almost exactly three years ago, Kendrick Castillo sacrificed his life to save his fellow classmates as they feared for their lives. On May 7, 2019, hundreds of students and parents faced their worst nightmare- a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.
Suspects Devon Erickson and Alec McKinney arrived at school late that day- Erickson hiding a rifle in his guitar case and McKinney’s in his backpack. Erickson entered Kendrick’s 9th period British Literature class where they were watching a movie and yelled “nobody move” while holding up the gun.
Without time to think, Kendrick and two of his fellow classmates lunged at the shooter. Although successful in their efforts to disarm him, Kendrick was shot in the chest and died soon after. This act of heroism has brought the community together as they commemorate the tragic event.
In a news interview shortly after the shooting, Nui Giasolli, a student that was in Kendrick’s class during the shooting, showed gratitude towards Kendrick and the others who tackled the gunman; “I want to thank Kendrick Castillo, Brendan Bialy, and Joshua Jones for being brave enough to bring him down so that all of us could escape and all of us could be reunited with our families.” Even after Kendrick’s death, other students and the rest of the community feel forever indebted towards Kendrick and his family because of his sacrifice. At the time of the shooting, the gunman pointed his rifle directly at a student’s head. If Kendrick had not distracted him, they would not be here today. By remaining selfless, Kendrick ensured that every student returned home to their families- except for him.
Even after his passing, Kendrick continues to have a major impact on his community, bringing them closer. Strange Craft Beer Company named a beer “Kendrick’s Ale” in honor of his remembrance. All proceeds go to Faster Colorado which trains teachers on how to stop school violence and administer medical aid.
The Douglas County community has rallied together after his death and decided to be what the community calls: STEM strong. Although this event dramatically changed the community, they have become more close than ever in the name of Kendrick.
He has left an imprint on hundreds of lives through his selflessness and kindness towards his community. His actions protected those that he loved and cared for and he did everything in his power to keep them out of harm’s way. Although he was tragically taken from this world far too soon, Kendrick will forever be remembered as the hero that saved his peers.
Today, John and Maria Castillo advocate for creating safer school environments for all students in hopes of a better tomorrow.