A gunman burst into a classroom Tuesday afternoon at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Eyewitnesses say 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo and 18-year-old Brendan Bialy did not hesitate. They say the young men jumped from their seats and lunged at the gunman.
It was only a matter of seconds, but that spontaneous act of sacrifice gave students a chance to run and hide. Brendan, who is in the Marine Corp Delayed Entry Program, was not injured and he helped subdue the attacker.
“Brendan’s courage and commitment to swiftly ending this tragic incident at the risk of his own safety is admirable and inspiring,” the Marines said in a statement to The Denver Post. “His decisive actions resulted in the safety and protection of his teachers and fellow classmates.”
Kendrick was gunned down and the wound was fatal. One of the two suspects in the shooting was known to make social media posts criticizing Christians “who hate gays” and President Donald Trump. His white car was spray-painted with “666” and a Pentagram, and the words “fu– society” on its side. The other shooter was a 16-year-old who identifies as a transgender male.
“I wish Brendan had gone and hid,” Castillo told The Denver Post, “But that’s not his character. His character is about protecting people, helping people.”
Classmates say Kendrick was a gentle soul. He was a member of the robotics team. He loved to hunt and fish. And he always tagged along with his dad to Knights of Columbus fundraisers. He was an all-American kid.
Mr. Castillo said the coroner called his son a hero and said many lives were saved by his actions that day. But now, his only son, his boy, is gone. “My wife and I are in a haze,” Castillo said. “He was everything to us.”
Mike Shallenberger, a teacher and family friend, said, “Kendrick, who gave his life in service at the church, taught us compassion, empathy, and love. As a young man, he taught us many things, but as it relates to wisdom he taught us what’s wiser than of his age. It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to him today, but it is with the joy of the Easter season that we celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead, we know too that Kendrick has been risen from his death,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Denver Post reports students protested and walked out of one of the vigils after Democratic politicians and gun control advocates spoke. The students said they just wanted to talk about their classmates.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)