Sometimes we don’t know what a hero will look like, but we always know what heroism looks like. On May 7, 2019, it looked precisely like the amazing actions Kendrick Castillo took at his Colorado high school. The 18-year-old student was sitting in his British Literature class when an armed suspect entered the classroom and said, “Nobody move!”
Without hesitation, Castillo and two friends, Joshua Jones and Brendan Bialy, disregarding their own safety, ran to confront the armed suspect. According to an NBCNews.com report, Castillo pushed the armed suspect up against a wall while his friends fought to disarm the suspect.
During the scuffle, the suspect shot Jones twice, wounding him, and shot and killed Castillo. However, the youngsters’ bravery delayed the armed criminals’ evil mission. This allowed time for other students to escape and for police to arrive. While the suspects wounded seven other people, they killed no one else. As of May 15th, all of the injured had been released from the hospital.
For Kendrick Castillo’s heroic acts to save his fellow classmates, during which the young man sacrificed his life, the sheriff chose to honor Castillo with a police memorial procession. The serpentine procession wound its way through Castillo’s community. It was the first time the sheriff’s office had bestowed such an honor on a civilian.
According to Newsweek.com, this is the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office’s “first-ever procession for a civilian.” Lt. Chris Washburn, the sheriff’s office patrol administrative lieutenant, told KDVR, “We wanted to honor the Castillo family and honor Kendrick.” Washburn added, “He’s a high school kid that didn’t think about his own safety but thought about the safety of his classmates and took some action. It’s horrific that that cost him his life, but he’s truly a hero in our eyes.”
Castillo’s actions were especially poignant when you consider that in the aftermath of the 2018 Parkland school shooting, a law enforcement officer has been harshly criticized for failing to do for the students his obligation to protect while Kendrick Castillo did for students when he had no obligation to protect.
Aside from law enforcement patrol vehicles, the police procession included 30 motorcycle officers representing law enforcement agencies in the Denver metro area. Fire department vehicles were also present along the route with firefighters and medics standing at attention, saluting.
The procession also featured some 800 Jeeps driven by Jeep enthusiasts wanting to pay their respects to a fellow “Jeeper.” Reportedly, Castillo loved off-roading and specifically Jeep vehicles.
Kendrick Castillo didn’t live a long life, but he laid down that life for his friends, and his community honors him for his selfless act. Now, that is a fitting farewell for a hero.