Community remembers slain student
HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (AP) — 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. 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 on 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.”
Speaker after speaker praised the young man, focusing on his character and the accomplishments of his short life. References to the shooting were few, including one by Dakota Mann, who was on the school robotics team with Castillo.
“He died for us. Now it’s time for us to live for him,” Mann said.
Earlier Wednesday, the Castillos attended court hearings for the two teenagers accused of killing their son and wounding eight other students. Investigators say the accused assailants, 18-year-old Devon Erickson and 16-year-old Alec McKinney, 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.
Castillo’s father stared at both defendants in their hearings.