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STEM School victim speaks out on 1-year anniversary of fatal shooting

Posted at 6:02 AM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 10:49:17-04

LITTLETON, Colo. — There’s hope.

That’s the message Josh Jones is sharing on the one-year anniversary of a school shooting that rattled the Colorado community. He and two other students helped take down one of the shooters inside the school.

On May 7, 2019, two students pulled guns at the STEM School Highlands Ranch, killing Kendrick Castillo and injuring eight others.

Jones, Castillo and Brendan Bialy helped take down a student that pulled a gun in a classroom. Jones was shot twice in the leg.

He said with the help of friends, prayer and his therapist, he’s learned to cope with the trauma of that day and focus on the good.

“How lucky I am, how incredibly blessed I have been by Kendrick’s sacrifice,” he said.

He said it’s been a long road to recovery mentally.

“Getting shot in the leg is not a brush-it-off situation,” he said.

He said he still thinks about Castillo and the anniversary is a reminder of the trauma they experienced.

“This time is difficult because it trudges up lots and lots of feelings,” he said.

His mother, Lorie Jones, said even though it was a very traumatic event, she felt the arms of the entire country hugging her family. She said she cherishes every day and adds that it was the STEM Strong community that helped her family through the darkest days.

While traumatic, Jones said the shooting opened his eyes to what he wants to do in his life.

“I’ve set my sights on becoming an EMT and giving that stability to help people who need it most in the roughest time of their life,” Jones said.

His prayers are paving a path to a future filled with hope but he said it’s just the beginning.

Right now, he said he’s not sure if he can forgive the shooting suspects.

“I think I will need a lot more time to truly make my mind if I have or haven’t forgiven them,” he said.

He said he advises anybody experiencing pain or distress from an incident to seek help.

"Find somebody you can talk to whether that be a counselor, a therapist or God if you need to," he said. "I recommend all of them if possible."

Alec McKinney pleaded guilty in February to more than a dozen felonies and first-degree murder.

Devon Erickson plead not guilty during his arraignment in January. His trail is delayed due to the coronavirus, according to the Denver Post.