Tributes to Kendrick Castillo, teen who died shielding classmates in STEM school shooting, pour in a year later

Castillo's classmates said that he lunged at one of the shooters, giving them time to get underneath desks and flee to safety.
Kendrick Castillo, 18, died while lunging at the shooter, according to a classmate at STEM School Highlands Ranch in a Denver suburb.
Kendrick Castillo, 18, died while lunging at the shooter, according to a classmate at STEM School Highlands Ranch in a Denver suburb.Courtesy John Castillo

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By Gwen Aviles

Tributes to Kendrick Castillo, a teen who died in an attempt to shield classmates from gunfire at his high school, poured in on social media on the anniversary on his death.

"One year ago today we lost Kendrick Castillo, a young hero who died saving countless classmates at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch," tweeted Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo. "We will not forget his courage or sacrifice."

Castillo, 18, was a senior at STEM High School Highlands Ranch in suburban Denver. On May 7 of last year, two students opened fire at the charter school, killing Castillo and injuring eight others. Castillo's classmates said that Castillo lunged at one of the shooters, giving them time to get underneath desks and flee to safety.

The shooting occurred just weeks after STEM High School Highlands Ranch and other Colorado schools reopened after closing temporarily amid security concerns about a woman who authorities say was "infatuated" with the Columbine High School massacre, the 1999 shooting that left 13 dead. The woman had purchased a handgun upon traveling from Florida to Colorado for the 20th anniversary of the shooting, according to authorities.

Castillo loved robotics and his goal was to work in aerospace for NASA. He was also a a longtime volunteer with his father in Knights of Columbus activities. Castillo's father, John, told NBC News that he had spoken to his son about what to do should he ever be in an active shooter situation and that he told his son he didn't "have to be a hero," but that Castillo rejected that advice.

"'You raised me this way. You raised me to be a good person. That’s what I’m doing,'" John Castillo quoted his son as saying.

"Out of one of the worst tragedies what we experienced, rose a new sense of community. We will forever be connected to @stemschoolHR and know for certain that another angel is watching over our blue family," read a tweet from Colorado's Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

The office arranged their cars and bikes in a heart formation and held signs that spelled out "#STEMSTRONG" Thursdayin tribute to Castillo.

The Colorado state legislature also passed a resolution to rename part of the C-470 as the “Kendrick Castillo Memorial Highway" last month.