A student at the STEM School Highlands Ranch was shot and killed in an act of bravery. His courageous efforts prevented the gunman from harming others.
Vigil for STEM shooting victim Kendrick Castillo

When I scroll down my timeline on Twitter and see children standing outside of their schools, clinging onto their loved ones with tears in their eyes, the first thought that pops into my head is, “not again.” Unfortunately, the news was true: a school shooting did happen again. In fact, according to the Gun Violence Archive, the recent Colorado school shooting is marked as the 115th U.S. school shooting so far since the beginning of 2019.

On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, two students stormed through the classrooms at STEM School Highlands Ranch inflicting harm and fear upon young lives, ultimately injuring eight and killing one. Kendrick Castillo was in English class watching the Princess Bride when one of the gunmen walked in. And in a courageous effort to protect his fellow classmates, Castillo lunged forward to take down the armed attacker. His heroism gave other students time to disarm the gunman and get away, but resulted in the death of the 18-year-old, just a few days before his graduation.

The only child to John and Maria Castillo, Kendrick, who spoke English and Spanish, was described as a selfless individual, someone who was extraordinary. His classmate, Nui Giasolli, describes him as “a gentle teenager fascinated by cars and engineering.”

Fellow students and families held a vigil to honor Kendrick's life and incredible fearlessness. Like students and members of the Highlands Ranch community, many around the nation have taken the time out to acknowledge Castillo's bravery on Twitter. Many are raising awareness on the implications of gun violence and shedding light on the importance of enforcing stricter laws to help prevent tragedies like these from occurring again.

As the 2018–2019 school year comes to an end, the fight for protecting our youth from gun violence does not stop.