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'He wanted to be a hero’: Parents of STEM School victim Kendrick Castillo mourn loss of son

Kendrick Castillo’s parents described their son as a selfless individual who cared deeply about people.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — The parents of the 18-year-old student killed during a shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch described their son as a hero who paid the ultimate toll to help save others.

Kendrick Castillo was shot and killed when two students armed with guns opened fired at two different locations within the school on Tuesday afternoon. Castillo was set to graduate from STEM School later this month.

RELATED: Student killed at STEM School Highlands Ranch lunged at gunman, classmate says

In an interview with NBC on Wednesday, Castillo’s parents, John and Maria Castillo, said they were very proud their only son did what he had to do to protect other students when one of two gunmen walked into a 9th period class and started firing. 

“I want the world to know he was a kind, compassionate person who was selfless - gave up his life to protect others," John Castillo said. 

Credit: NBC
John & Maria Castillo.

The shooting injured eight others and prompted a police response involving multiple agencies across the Denver metro area. Two students are still in the hospital as of Wednesday afternoon. 

“I’m going to have a lot of guilt for a long time by raising a good individual...his actions are heroic, but the consequences are steep," John Castillo said. 

Classmates said that just prior to being shot, Castillo lunged at one of the gunmen, which gave other students time to get underneath their desks or run away to safety.  

“I was approached by a girl last night she told me 'Mr. Castillo, your son saved my life,'" John Castillo said. “...To see all his friends alive and him offer up his life I know that’s what he would do. I wish it wasn’t the way it has to be, but it is."

Credit: Castillo Family Friend
Kendrick Castillo

Nui Giasolli, a student at the school, said on the 'Today' Show Wednesday that Castillo died a hero. Giasolli also thanked three other students she said ran toward the gunman. One of them was Brendan Bialy, a current poolee in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program (DEP).

The school held a vigil May 8 at St. Andrew United Methodist Church.

“Our son paid the price and others were able to go home, thank God for that," John Castillo said.

For those wishing to make a donation to the Castillo family, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said an account has been set up through Wells Fargo Bank. Donations to the "Kendrick Castillo Memorial Fund" can be made at any branch.

RELATED: 'Admirable and inspiring': Aspiring Marine helped subdue gunman at STEM School Highlands Ranch

The 18-year-old suspect arrested in the shooting will be held without bond until he is formally charged, a Douglas County judge decided Wednesday afternoon. The second suspect, Maya McKinney, is a juvenile transgender male who goes by the name Alec. He is also being held without bond. 

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