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Students struggled with shooter, stopped further bloodshed

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    Young women console each other during a community vigil to honor the victims and survivors of yesterday’s fatal shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch, Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    This undated photo provided by Rachel Short shows Kendrick Castillo, who was killed during a shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (Rachel Short via AP)

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    Devon Erickson, an accused STEM School shooter, appears at the Douglas County Courthouse in Castle Rock, Colo., Wednesday, May 8, 2019. The attackers were identified by law enforcement officials as 18-year-old Erickson and a younger student who is a juvenile and was not named. They allegedly walked into the STEM School Highlands Ranch through an entrance without metal detectors and opened fire in two classrooms. (Joe Amon/The Denver Post via AP, Pool)

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    A Douglas County, Colo., Sheriffs Department deputy walks past the doors to the STEM Highlands Ranch school early Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Two high school students used at least two handguns in a fatal Tuesday shooting at the charter school authorities said Wednesday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    Investigators work outside the STEM Highlands Ranch school Wednesday morning, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo., the day after two students opened fire on students at the school. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    A chair sits outside the middle school entrance to STEM School Highlands Ranch a day after two students opened fire on students at the school, Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    Douglas County Sheriff’s Department deputies direct a motorist away from the scene outside STEM School Highlands Ranch a day after two students opened fire on students at the school, Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    Police tape remains near the scene following Tuesday’s shooting at STEM Highlands Ranch school, Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    George Brauchler, district attorney for Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, makes a point about Tuesday’s shooting at a charter school, as Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, left, listens during a news conference Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    Colorado Gov. Jared Polis responds to a question about Tuesday’s shooting at a charter school during a news conference Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock considers a question about Tuesday’s shooting at a charter school during a news conference Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock responds to questions about Tuesday’s shooting at a charter school during a news conference Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    School buses arrive at a recreation center set up for students to get reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    A parent leaves with a child from the recreation center where students were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    Parents leave a recreation center with their child where students were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    RETRANSMIT WITH ALTERNATE CROP Officials guide students off a bus and into a recreation center where they were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    A parent leaves the recreation center where students were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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    Parents gather in a circle to pray at a recreation center where students were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Published May 09. 2019 07:18AM

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colorado (AP) — The three students who disarmed a gunman in a Colorado school shooting leapt up from their desks without a word and with no thought for their own safety when they spotted the gun, recounted one of the young men.

They slammed the teenager, a classmate of theirs, against the wall and struggled with him when shots rang out. Kendrick Castillo, who led the charge, slumped to the ground.

His close friend, Brendan Bialy, wrestled the gun away and called out to Castillo. There was no response, Bialy told a roomful of reporters on Wednesday as he recalled what happened the previous day at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

“Kendrick went out as a hero,” Bialy said. “He was a foot away from the shooter and instead of running the opposite direction he ran toward it.”

Authorities said the actions of Castillo, Bialy and Joshua Jones minimized the bloodshed from Tuesday’s attack at the school south of Denver that wounded eight students along with killing the 18-year-old Castillo.

The injured includes Jones, who was shot twice, according to a statement released by his family.

Bialy acknowledged that he was scared, but he said he wasn’t going to cower for shooters he repeatedly called cowards.

“They lost,” he said of the shooters. “They completely and utterly lost to good people.”

The attackers were identified by law enforcement officials as 18-year-old Devon Erickson and a 16-year-old who prosecutors identified as Maya McKinney but whose attorney said uses male pronouns and the name Alec. The two allegedly walked into the STEM School Highlands Ranch through an entrance without metal detectors and opened fire in two classrooms.

Because the attack happened only miles from Columbine High School and just weeks after the shooting’s 20th anniversary, questions quickly arose about whether it was inspired by the 1999 massacre. But investigators offered no immediate motive.

A member of the school’s robotics club and a relentless tinkerer, Castillo had an infectious smile and gentle sense of humor, according to friends. He worked part-time at a local manufacturing company that had offered him a job after an internship because he was such a standout employee.

“To find he went down as a hero, I’m not surprised. That’s exactly who Kendrick was,” said Rachel Short, president of the company, Baccara.

Cecilia Bedard, 19, had known Castillo since elementary school and said he was always friendly, modest and excited to help people. He made a point of always joining his father at Knights of Columbus fundraisers and bingo nights.

“He was amazing,” Bedard said. “He was honestly the sweetest kid I ever met. Never said a mean joke.”

The security guard who detained the second armed suspect was employed by Boss High Level Protection, a company started by a former SWAT team leader who responded to the Columbine shooting. The owner, Grant Whitus, told The Associated Press the security guard is a former Marine who ran to the area of the shootings and confronted one of the armed students in a hallway.

The guard drew his weapon and apprehended the person, Whitus said.

“He doesn’t even realize how many lives he saved by stopping a school shooting,” Whitus said.

Both suspects were students at the school, and they were not previously known to authorities, Spurlock said.

Erickson made his first court appearance Wednesday and kept his head down. His black hair, streaked with purple dye, covered his face as he nodded in response to most of District Court Judge Theresa Slade’s questions. At one point, the judge requested a verbal answer to whether he had any questions about the proceedings. Erickson simply replied “No.”

McKinney, who has a short brown haircut, made eye contact with the judge and answered questions in a clear but quiet voice, saying “Yes, your honor” and “No, your honor.”

District attorney George Brauchler said he has not decided whether to file adult charges but added that McKinney is old enough to be charged as an adult without a judge’s review.

Formal charges were expected to be filed by Friday. Brauchler said he could not discuss any motive or weapons used in the attack.

Brauchler said the community remains resilient in the face of multiple shootings, including the 1999 Columbine school massacre, the 2012 theater shooting in the Denver suburb of Aurora and the 2013 shooting at Arapahoe High School.

The attacks are “aberrant acts” although they might seem otherwise to the rest of the world, he said. “Who we are is a kind, compassionate, caring people, and this does not define us.”

Comments
Mental Health! Ironic how the state where this took place state is the champion for liberty and freedom to get high. The same day of the shooting, the people voted yes to decriminalizing hallucinogenic mushrooms. Mental Health!
Mental Health! Ironic how the second person arrested is a ‘juvenile female,’ (Maya), who is transitioning to be a male! Mental Health!
Look folks, these progressive ways that come against God, Common Sense, and Normal Behavior, will not work out well.
This is sad. Thank God people are throwing to the side the Department of Homeland Securities suggested "Run, Hide, Fight" protocol for active shooter situations. Americans fight they don't run. God Bless the family of that brave student who sacrificed so others might live. Run Hide Fight my ars.
Heroes were made. Three young men rushed the shooters and saved their fellow students. Once again, mental illness was a substantial contributing factor. We need to make every school a castle. We need a secure perimeter with controlled entry. We need trained security such as retired military/ police or teachers that carry. We need extensive training emphasizing safety. We need mental health intervention. Crazy people should not be allowed to handle weapons. God Bless the victims and their families.
Controlled entry gets difficult when hundreds of students get dumped off at the same time. We need to stop telling everyone they have a right to self satisfaction through any means. We need to teach our young people to deny self and embrace those around us, put our neighbors first. Imagine if we all would put others before self! Selfishness, Greed, and that desire to find contentment at all cost, is a big part of our mental health problem. Fix the child. Parents need to be parents. I was a horrible parent early in, but thankfully I came around. You see, I was all about me me me. This self serving attitude is what leads us down the wrong path. This was another tragedy. Now for the anti gun people... 1... 2... 3...
You are right Mr. Meyers. I put some thought into this. One one hand, we could model schools like a sporting event entrance. Hundreds enter at the same time. Or, we could have staggered beginning times for students. Each school would have to be evaluated individually. MAGA!

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