The teenager who lost his life after a pair of attackers opened fire on a school in Colorado has been hailed as a hero after charging at one of the gunmen.
Kendrick Castillo, 18, was shot dead after launching himself at one of the attackers, which gave his fellow classmates enough time to hide or escape.
In an ironic and tragic twist, the teenager’s father, John Castillo, said that he had previously talked to his son about the possibility of confronting a school shooter.
“You don’t have to be the hero,” John told his son, according to NBC News. Despite his fathers best efforts to advise him against taking on an armed suspect, Kendrick remained adamant that he would do everything in his power to stop the shooting.
“‘You raised me this way,” Kendrick would tell his father. “You raised me to be a good person. That’s what I’m doing.’”
Tragically, this hypothetical situation became a reality Tuesday, and Kendrick was the one to keep to his word and lay his life down for his classmates.
“He charged the shooter and was immediately on top of him, complete disregard for his own safety,” fellow student and witness Brendan Bialy, who also rushed one of the students, told the outlet. “He was immediately there to respond; he was immediately there on the shooter, and he was ready to end the threat.”
According to another classmate, Nui Giasolli, the shooters burst into the classroom “telling nobody to move.”
“That’s when Kendrick lunged at him and he shot Kendrick, giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks, to get ourselves safe and to run out … across the room to escape,” Giasolli explained.
“I think I wouldn’t be standing here right now, I think I wouldn’t be able to tell the stories for how brave Kendrick was, how brave Jackson and Lucas and everybody were because they made that choice to sacrifice themselves so that all of us could go home that night,” he added, referencing other students who displayed heroics during those terrifying moments.
“I wish he had gone and hid,” Kendrick’s father told the Denver Post, “but that’s not his character.”
“His character is about protecting people, helping people,” he added.
Douglas County Coroner Jill Roman has confirmed eight students were injured in the shooting, with Kendrick being the sole fatality.
The STEM School Highlands Ranch is located just five miles away from Columbine High School — the scene of a brutal mass shooting back in 1999.