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Kendrick Castillo, Heroic Colorado Student, Dies While Saving His Classmates during a School Shooting

Junie Sihlangu
May 09, 2019
11:39 A.M.

The STEM School Highlands Ranch in Denver, Colorado became a bloodbath on Tuesday when two students opened fire. One student has been hailed as a hero after he saved his classmates lives during the shooting.

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The boy lunged at one of the two shooters giving his classmates the time and opportunity to run away and hide.

The shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch left one student dead and eight more wounded. Kamananui Giasolli, a student at the K-12 school in a Denver suburb, was one of the students who was caught in the line of fire.

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A day after the incident occurred she shared how one of the shooters had surprised her class by arriving with a gun. Giasolli, a senior at the school, revealed how she was in her British literature class when one of the shooters, a male classmate, pulled out a gun.

"I want people to know about him.”

She recalled how the student had arrived late to class after 2 p.m. and “The next thing I know, he is pulling a gun and is telling nobody to move.” However, not all the classmates reacted to the instruction as expected.

Giasolli said: “That’s when Kendrick lunged at him, and he shot Kendrick.” The boy’s actions ended up “giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks, to get ourselves safe, and to run across the room to escape.”

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Kendrick Castillo, 18, was unfortunately killed in the shooting. FIRST, a robotics non-profit that advocates for youth in science, technology, engineering, and math programs, said Castillo was a member of the varsity robotics team.

Castillo was also assisted by other students to tackle the shooter which saved the classmates' lives. Giasolli added that they “were brave enough to bring him down so that all of us could escape and all of us could be reunited with our families.”

She continued: “I can’t thank them enough.” One of the other students who tackled the gunman was Brendan Bialy, a senior, who planned on becoming a Marine after graduation.

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Castillo's father, John, said his son was a hero and wanted the world to remember that. He stated: "I want people to know about him.”

Giasolli’s mother, Nyki Giasolli, revealed how the shooting had been a “nightmare.” She said: “It’s been so hard, but I did get to hold my babies last night and they are home with me now.”

Her son, Kupono, is also a 9th-grade student at the STEM school. Her daughter vowed to go back to school saying: “I don't want to give the shooters the satisfaction of being afraid of some place that was my second home for four years.”

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She explained:

“I want to show them that even though they did this terrible, terrible thing, that we can all come together and we can all make it a happy place again, because that’s what really matters.”

Mia Bash, another student at the school said: "We heard like really big bangs, which I assume are gunshots.” She recalled how "Everyone was sort of spread out across the room just hiding.”

The two students who opened fire are both in custody after they were found with a "number of weapons." According to Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, they included two handguns which neither suspect was old enough to buy.

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Police arrived at the school within two minutes of the shooting. They identified one of the shooters as Devon Erickson, 18, who was the shooter in Giasolli’s class.

On Wednesday, Erickson made an initial court appearance and prosecutors were expected to file charges against him on Friday. The second suspect was a juvenile female whom a public defender revealed prefers to use male pronouns, he hasn’t been charged yet.

In the afternoon, President Donald Trump tweeted: "Our Nation grieves at the unspeakable violence that took a precious young life and badly injured others in Colorado."

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Castillo’s father also recalled a conversation he once had with him where he advised the teenager, “You don’t have to be the hero.” However, the boy was adamant about doing something if a shooter ever threatened him.

Castillo’s response to his father at the time was, “‘You raised me this way. You raised me to be a good person. That’s what I’m doing.'” The young hero remained true to his words.

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