Things That Matter

Kendrick Castillo’s Killer Has Finally Been Convicted

Photo via GoFundMe

According to his classmates, Kendrick Castillo was one of the nicest students at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch. The 18-year-old high schooler was friendly to new students and helpful to fellow students struggling with school work. “He didn’t have a secret motive,” said friend and classmate Kevin Cole. But in 2019, a school shooter named Devon Erickson shot and killed Kendrick Castillo.

On Tuesday, a jury convicted Kendrick Castillo’s murderer, Devon Erickson, on 46 criminal counts connected to the 2019 Highlands Ranch STEM school shooting.

20-year-old Erickson had pleaded not guilty to all his charges. The jury deliberated for less than 5 hours. When they came back, they charged Erickson with 31 counts of attempted murder and three counts for the first-degree murder of Kendrick Castillo. Last year, a jury convicted Erickson’s co-defendant, Alec McKinney, to 40 years in prison.

“I’m sure Kendrick was looking down on us today,” Kendrick Castillo’s father, John Castillo, said in a brief press conference after the verdict. “This day is justice for him. I never thought I’d be fighting for justice for a crime that should never have happened.”

People hailed Kendrick Castillo as a hero after he charged at shooter Devon Erickson in an active shooter situation.

Erickson shot and killed Castillo. According to witnesses, Castillo’s sacrifice gave other students time to hide under their desks or find other ways of escaping. Even before the tragedy, John Castillo talked to his son about the possibility of a school shooting happening at his school. Knowing his son’s personality, John Castillo warned him: “You don’t have to be the hero.”

But according to John Castillo, Kendrick knew that he would sacrifice himself to save others if he was ever in a school shooting. According to John Castillo, Kendrick said back to him: “You raised me this way. You raised me to be a good person. That’s what I’m doing.”

Kendrick Castillo’s classmates have been vocal about how they feel that they wouldn’t he here without his and other students’ bravery.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO – MAY 15: A girl wipes away tears after Kendrick Castillo’s casket was moved into Cherry Hills Community Church for a celebration of life ceremony on May 15, 2019 in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Castillo wasn’t the only student who put his life on the line to save others. His fellow classmates, Jackson Gregory and Lucas Albertoni, also “engaged” the shooter.

“I think I wouldn’t be standing here right now, I think I wouldn’t be able to tell the stories for how brave Kendrick was, how brave Jackson and Lucas and everybody were because they made that choice to sacrifice themselves so that all of us could go home that night,” said Highlands Ranch STEM student Nui Giasolli to NBC News.

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