Highlands Ranch, Colo. — Nearly 2,000 people turned out Wednesday for a memorial service to honor the Colorado teenager who was killed while charging one of the two gunmen who opened fire inside a high school and shot nine people just days before graduation.
A line of Jeeps and trucks stretched along a Highlands Ranch roadway ahead of the service for Kendrick Castillo, 18, who was a Jeep and off-road vehicle enthusiast, CBS Denver reports.
His casket was draped with yellow and blue flowers that represented the colors of the STEM School Highlands Ranch, and the stage of the church where the service was held was adorned with symbols of his passion for science, the outdoors and his faith.
His father, John Castillo, said it was no surprise to him and his wife, Maria, that their son acted as he did May 7, when he and two classmates disarmed one of the suspects. He urged those in attendance to be more like his son and put love and compassion for others first.
“We love our community,” Castillo said. “We’re a family of three and a little dog, but you know, I feel the love of thousands.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared May 15 as “Kendrick Castillo Day,” writing in a Facebook post that the student’s “bravery won’t be forgotten.”
Earlier in the day, the Castillos attended court hearings for the two teenagers accused of killing their son and wounding eight other students. Investigators say the accused assailants, Devon Erickson, 18, and Alec McKinney, 16, opened fire with handguns. They were arrested at the school.
Erickson and McKinney appeared in court to face dozens of criminal charges that include murder, attempted murder, arson and theft.
While court documents are sealed, the charges against the teenagers were listed in electronic court records. Prosecutors said both will be tried as adults. McKinney’s attorney, Ara Ohanian, said he would seek to move McKinney’s case back to juvenile court.
Judge Theresa Slade denied the prosecution’s request to make some of the documents public but said she would address the issue at the next hearing on June 7.
Castillo and classmates Brendan Bialy and Joshua Jones were credited with helping minimize the bloodshed by charging at one of the suspects in a classroom.
According to Bialy, Castillo sprang into action against the shooter “and immediately was on top of him with complete disregard for his own safety.” Jones said he was shot twice in the leg during the ordeal. Bialy said he was able to take the attacker’s weapon.
Jones, 18, said Tuesday that he is recovering quickly from his wounds, but said emotionally he’s “still in a bit of a funk.”
All of the wounded students have been released from hospitals.
The shooting happened nearly three weeks after the neighboring town of Littleton marked the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School attack that killed 13 people. The two schools are separated by about 7 miles south of Denver.