HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — The student who died in Tuesday’s shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch has been identified and is being credited with helping save the lives of his classmates.
Kendrick Castillo, 18, was a senior at the school. Castillo and at least one other student are believed to have tackled one of the shooters.
“Kendrick lunged at [the suspect], 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,” senior Nui Giasolli said in an interview Wednesday morning with NBC News.
Giasolli said it began when one of the suspects arrived late to class Tuesday.
“The next thing I know, he is pulling a gun and is telling nobody to move,” he said.
Castillo’s parents said his heroic actions were unsurprising.
“We’re not surprised because that was in his makeup. You know, Kendrick was a giving kid. He would do something to save his friends if he knew he had to do it,” said his father, John Castillo.
The parents said Kendrick’s quick thinking prevented more deaths.
“If he didn’t do it, what would this mess look like?” John Castillo said. “He gave up his life for others.”
Kendrick’s parents said they were told their son probably did not suffer, as his death was likely instant.
They said Kendrick planned to attend Arapahoe Community College.
“Life’s not fair, it’s dangerous.” John Castillo said. “My son paid the ultimate price.”
The Castillos said they have a message for the community.
“I want families to get back to being families and engage with their kids. You know, we did that successfully with our kid. We lost him because he was selfless and he gave up his life,” John Castillo said.
An 18-year-old man and a juvenile, both students, are accused of going into the school and opening fire at two locations.
In court Wednesday, it was revealed the juvenile suspect was born female, is transitioning to male and prefers to be referred to by a male name.
Castillo was killed and eight other students were wounded in the shooting on Tuesday afternoon. As of Wednesday afternoon, two students remained hospitalized.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said donations can be made to the Castillo family through Wells Fargo. Go to any branch and ask to donate to the Kendrick Castillo Memorial Fund by cash, check or transfer.