HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO — They acted immediately and selflessly Tuesday when two shooters opened fire at STEM School Highlands Ranch, killing one student and injuring eight others. The suspects, one an 18-year-old and the other a juvenile, are in custody and were due in court for preliminary appearances Wednesday.
As stories of heroism emerged, students who lived through the carnage said many more of their classmates might have been killed or injured if not for the brave acts of others.
Here are five stories of heroism and bravery. We ask that Patch readers share more uplifting stories of bravery and self-sacrifice as they know them. Tell us about them in the comments or make a Neighbor Post.
The Victim, Kendrick Castillo
Kendrick Castillo, the 18-year-old killed in the mass shooting, “died like a hero,” facing down one of the armed teens “to save the lives of his companions,” Telemundo News correspondent Maria Paula Ochoa tweeted. Witnesses told CNN he rushed one of the shooters and credited him with saving many lives.
The teen’s father, John Castillo, told news station KGMH he wants “people to know about him.” Friday would have been his last day at school for the high school senior before graduation. READ MORE.
Student Brendon Bialy
Brad Bialy told The New York Times his son, a senior, and two of his friends tried to tackle one of the shooters, who walked into a classroom and pulled a gun out of a guitar case and began shooting.
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“When I spoke to him he was still in shock and primarily concerned with the victims and their families!” the Bialy family’s attorney, Mark Bryant, said in a statement obtained by Heavy.com. “He was very defiant at these senseless and horrendous acts. This young man like many of our young youth who are compelled by their families, communities, and own internal convictions and strength to act immediately and selflessly. His message is strength to all.”
A Student Who Took Three Bullets
One of the students, a 17-year-old junior, was shot three times trying to stop the attack, Frank Montoya told KGMH of his son.
“Thank God he is fine,” Montoya told the news station after his son was released from the hospital Tuesday night. “Even though he got shot, he’s OK. He’s going to walk out on his feet, so I’m glad. We’re so lucky.”
Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputies
Deputies responded within two minutes of getting the call of an active shooting and heard gunshots as they entered the school, Sheriff Tony Spurlock said at a news briefing Tuesday.
“I have to believe the quick response of officers that got inside this school helped save lives,” Spurlock said.
A Private Security Guard
STEM School Highlands Ranch doesn’t have a school resource officer, but an unnamed armed private security guard took one of the suspects into custody and turned him over to deputies. Grant Whitus, the chief operating officer of Boss High Level Protection, which employs the security guard, told CNN the man is a former Marine in his late 20s or early 30s who had worked as a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy.
Whitus said the officer was “instrumental” in stopping the shooting and that “countless lives would have been lost” if he hadn’t been there. Whitus, who spoke to the security officer Tuesday night, said the man was feeling “very anxious” and that he believed it “was his responsibility to stop the whole thing and he couldn’t do it, but you have a school a half a city block long.”
“He’s a good guy,” Whitus told CNN. “He’s wishing he could have done more.”
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