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Colorado high school shooting: Teen died charging at attacker

Colorado high school shooting: Teen died charging at attacker

File photo of 18-year-old Kendrick Ray Castillo died in the STEM School shooting in Colorado on Tuesday May 7, 2019. (Photo: AP)

COLORADO: The student who was killed in Tuesday's (May 7) shooting at a suburban Denver high school was among a group of students, according to eyewitnesses, that charged at the assailants in an attempt to disarm them.

The 18-year-old from Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado has been identified by his family as Kendrick Ray Castillo.

He was a senior just three days away from graduation, police said on Wednesday as they continued to search for a motive in the attack in which eight other pupils were injured.

"Kendrick lunged at him," senior Nui Giasolli told NBC News, referring to the older of the two shooting suspects, Devon Erickson, 18, who was being held on murder and attempted-murder charges.

"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,” Giasolli said.

Cece Bedard, who knew Castillo since elementary school, said she broke down in tears when she heard her friend had died but was not surprised at his selfless act.

"There is no doubt in my mind that he would have done anything he thought he could have to help anyone," Bedard said on Wednesday.

Students get off a bus during an evacuation after a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado on May 7, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

When they were in middle school, Castillo and Bedard both volunteered with their fathers at the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's community service organization.

Castillo loved tagging along with his father to volunteer with the Knights of Columbus, whether it involved carrying heavy crates of fruit for a peach drive or setting up senior lunches. He was especially good at connecting with the elderly people he served, Bedard said.

"He was always there earlier than I was and was always there later than I was," she said.

His friends remember Castillo as a goofy jokester, although his humor was never at anyone's expense, Bedard said. He had a strong sense of self and did not care what other people thought of him, a trait that made him stand out among his peers.

Castillo was enthusiastic about robotics and was a member of a regional robotics team, another community that was mourning his loss on Wednesday.

"We're heartbroken by the death of Kendrick Castillo, a victim of the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting in Littleton, CO. Kendrick was a member of @Frc4418, of which his father is Lead Mentor," tweeted FIRST, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing youth in STEM.

READ: Denver suburb seeks answers after school shooting School shootings have become a frequent occurrence in the US, where firearms killed nearly 40,000 people in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Photo: AFP/Chet Strange) School shootings have become a frequent occurrence in the US, where firearms killed nearly 40,000 people in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention AFP/Chet Strange

The older of two students being charged for the shooting made his initial court appearance on Wednesday, a day after his arrest on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.

The 18-year-old defendant being charged as an adult, Devon Erickson, sat silently at a small table with his head bowed and his hands shackled to his waist, flanked by two defense lawyers as a pair of sheriff's deputies stood just behind them.

It was not immediately clear whether his accused accomplice, who is under the age of 18, would be charged in adult court or as a juvenile.

The two teenagers are accused of opening fire on fellow students in two classrooms at the school.

The attack occurred less than a month after the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in nearby Littleton, about 5 miles from Highlands Ranch, carried out by two students who shot 13 people to death before committing suicide.

Precisely what happened inside the STEM school remained unclear.

Sheriff Tony Spurlock said there was a "struggle" as officers entered the building, and some students said one victim was shot in the chest as he tried to tackle a shooter.

A man who identified himself as Fernando Montoya said his 17-year-old son, a junior at STEM, was shot three times when a shooter walked into his classroom and opened fire.

"He said a guy pulled a pistol out of a guitar case and started to shoot," Montoya told the Denver TV station.

Source: Reuters/mn

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