Editor's Note: Photo above is from a video here from 9News (KUSA) on Facebook.
Kendrick Ray Castillo is an American hero.
I would imagine most Americans have heard of Kendrick Castillo by now. If not, Kendrick was an 18-year-old senior at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado. His school is located outside of Denver, about eight miles from the infamous Columbine High School.
Sadly, instead of graduating in a few days as planned, Kendrick died trying to save his classmates from a student gunman who opened fire on their British literature class Tuesday morning, May 7.
I have seriously debated and prayed about writing this blog. The mother in me cannot imagine the pain and loss of Kendrick’s parents, and I would never want to exploit or add to that pain. Yet, I hear that still small Voice encouraging me to let people know of the courage and bravery of a teenager who willingly gave his all for his friends.
I have read several accounts of that morning, and as a retired teacher, I know it is every educator’s worst nightmare to have someone barge into class wielding a gun. Tuesday’s attack must have been a time of total panic, leaving many of those kids immobile with fear.
But Kendrick never hesitated. He rushed one of the attackers, and two fellow students followed his lead. Their quick actions gave fellow classmates time to get under their desks, and some even made it across the hall to safety.
When the gunfire ended, Kendrick was dead. He sacrificed all; he gave his life to save his friends.
The police arrested two attackers, one male, one female, both students at the STEM high school. Of the eight other students injured in the attack, only two are still hospitalized with serious injuries.
All of the media interviews with the survivors tell the same story: Kendrick Castillo was a hero. He saved countless lives.
Kendrick’s immediate response changed the situation; that’s for sure. But as a mother of two sons, I watched in awe as Kendrick’s mother and father discussed his bravery and sacrifice in an interview with an NBC reporter from KUSA News9.
Their pain was raw and obvious, but they understood immediately upon hearing of Kendrick’s death that his actions were predictable.
“That’s a Kendrick thing,” declared John Castillo. “He would not let somebody get hurt if he had anything to do with it.”
Kendrick’s father, John Castillo, told how his son loved engineering and looked forward to graduation and a summer internship. John described how Kendrick could never be mean to anyone, not even jokingly.
Sara Haynes, one of Kendrick’s former teachers at a nearby Catholic middle school, reiterated John Castillo’s description of Kendrick. She also talked about how important his faith was to him, even as a young student.
Haynes found a class film of him acting out a scene from the Bible. In it, Kendrick was so serious and intentional as he looked straight into the camera and played the part of Jesus ministering to the hurting.
“He always wanted to be Jesus,” recounted Haynes.
On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, Kendrick Castillo once again portrayed Jesus as he laid down his life for his friends in that high school classroom.
And for those who knew Kendrick best, his sacrifice was no surprise.
“My wife and I knew right away that it was something he would do,” said Kendrick’s father. “His actions were heroic, but the consequences are steep.”
Yes, indeed. There are no steeper consequences on this side of Heaven. But on the other side of eternity, the consequences are measured in immortal souls rather than mortal bodies. So, we will only understand the fullness of Kendrick’s heroism and its saving consequences when we reach our eternal home.
Until then, we are left to remember and recount the heroic, sacrificial deeds of a young teenager who lived and died like His Savior.
It’s a Kendrick thing; it’s a Jesus thing; but is it your thing?