NewsSTEM School Shooting


'Our world stopped on May 7': Kendrick Castillo's parents have visited his grave every day since his death

Tuesday marks five years since Kendrick Castillo saved countless lives when he rushed one of the shooters at STEM School Highlands Ranch.
'Our world stopped on May 7': Kendrick Castillo's parents visit their son's grave every day, for the last five years
Posted at 7:53 PM, May 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 21:54:01-04

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — Tuesday marks five years since STEM School Highlands Ranch senior Kendrick Castillo rushed one of the gunmen inside his school and saved countless lives.

His parents never wanted their son to be a hero — they just want their son back.

“Still just yesterday in our minds," said Kendrick's father, John Castillo. “It could have been a week ago, a month ago. Five years. It doesn't seem like five years.”

John and Maria Castillo come to sit by their son's grave every single day. In the winter, an employee from Seven Stones Botanical Garden Cemetery will dig a path in the snow for the Castillos.

“He was funny. He could light up a room. He was just compassionate, loved people. I don't think there was ever a place that Kendrick went that he walked away and didn't know everybody there and they were his best friend," said John.

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The two wonder what their son would be doing if he was alive. Kendrick would be 23 years old this year. They believe he would have graduated college by now and would be working as a mechanical engineer.

“I didn't send my son to school to become a hero. I sent him there to learn. This should have never happened," Maria said. “I feel like I'm angry all the time, after five years, and I miss him more every day.”

For the Castillos, it feels like each year has gotten more difficult without their son.

“I remember the morning when he left for school, and we were all together. And yeah, life was different. We had everything going on. Now, it's just survival mode," John said. “Our son's never going to come home. Our lives are damaged for good.”

The two say their world stopped on May 7, 2019. Without Kendrick, they feel like their future has been ripped away from them.

“As we age and get older, what's become our belongings that we would have left to Kendrick, you know? We know we'll never have grandchildren," said John. “I just wish all this was a bad nightmare, and we would wake up and he would be here... Faith has saved us, it's kept us alive. This tragedy has also made us question. We wouldn't be honest if we didn't say that. Why Kendrick?”

The Castillos are actively working to publicize information they have learned about the case. In a lawsuit filed by the Castillos in 2021, the family alleges that STEM School Highlands Ranch had a duty to maintain a safe environment for the students because of the Claire Davis School Safety Act. The suit claims the school breached that duty in a number of ways, causing the wrongful death of Kendrick.

The Castillos are currently waiting on a judge's decision in the case.

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Every day they come to Kendrick's grave, they have a conversation with him.

“We come here and tell him that we love him. We tell him what his friends are doing," said John. “We have that conversation as if he was here with us, and we were able to get a little bit of peace about explaining what's going on in our lives... It's a one-way conversation that sometimes feels really good, you know?”

There's also a push to change the name of Lucent Boulevard to Kendrick Castillo Way, which John and Maria hope will become a reality.

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