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Parker Chronicle 9

May 17, 2019

‘There was no hesitation, there was no looking around’ BY NICK PUCKETT NPUCKETT@COLORADOCOMMUNITYMEDIA.COM

Brendan Bialy, center, says what he saw emerge during the May 7 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch was “the absolute best of people.” At left is his family’s lawyer, Mark Bryant, and at right is Bialy’s mother, Dena Bialy. NICK PUCKETT

Brendan Bialy said the decision to act was made quickly. Actually, it wasn’t a decision at all. It was instinct. “It was immediate, non-hesitation,” Bialy, an aspiring Marine, said. “There was no questioning, there was no hesitation, there was no looking around.” Bialy said he, Kendrick Castillo and another student subdued one of the suspects who had entered their classroom in the May 7 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch that left eight students injured and one dead. Castillo was killed and the other student was wounded and did not want to be identified, said Bialy, who was not injured. Bialy said he and a teacher put compression on the chest of Castillo after he had been shot. “What I saw yesterday was the absolute best of people,” Bialy said at a May 8 press conference. “I got to see two heroes, two regular high school kids, two awesome people,

CASTILLO

‘We have to be better people. If you are going to have kids in this world, you need to be all in.’

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charter school, which uses a lottery system for enrollment, and won. “His face lit up ear-to-ear,” John said. Kendrick was on two robotics teams and part of the school’s Technology Student Association. Even in highpressure competitions, he would stop what he was doing to help other students, said Jordon Monk, one of his best friends, who was visiting Kendrick’s parents on Mother’s Day. Kendrick was a mentor, a friend to all. After high school he planned to attend Arapahoe Community College for two years and then Colorado State University or the University of Colorado at Boulder. He wanted to be an electrical or mechanical engineer. “He had a lot of hopes and dreams,” John said. “Most of his hopes and dreams always included the people he loved.” When Monk wasn’t at his own house in Highlands Ranch, he was at Kendrick’s. The two would play video games, go for drives in Kendrick’s beloved Jeep and take a golf cart parked in the backyard for a spin. At school they’d often get the classroom off topic with their amiable banter. “The only thing he loved more than his Jeep was the people inside,” Monk said. “Everyone went to him for help.” ‘We have to be better people’ John was eating lunch at a Chickfil-A near his work at the Denver Tech Center on May 7 when a colleague texted: “Doesn’t Kendrick go to STEM? There is an active shooter.” He called his wife and raced to Northridge Recreation Center, where

jump into action without any hesitation. I was more than lucky to join them in doing that action. Somebody entered the building with incredibly malicious intent, using their cowardice, surprise and superior weapons, and they lost. They completely and utterly lost to good people.” Bialy, of Castle Rock, said the incident will give him the confidence to act when called upon when he begins service. He is currently a poolee in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program, a program people enlist in before being shipped to basic training. A poolee is a person who has already signed up to become a Marine but has not left for the 13 weeks of recruit training. The U.S. Marine Corps released a statement in response to Bialy’s efforts. “Brendan’s courage and commitment to swiftly ending this tragic incident at the risk of his own safety is admirable and inspiring,” the statement reads. “His decisive actions resulted in the safety and protection of his teachers and fellow classmates.”

John Castillo, Kendrick’s father

Kendrick Castillo helps a classmate at STEM High School in Highlands Ranch. Castillo “had a lot of hopes and dreams,” his father said. COURTESY PHOTO parents were being reunified with their children. He parked in a nearby neighborhood, jumped a fence and scanned the crowd — his anxiety skyrocketing. Cop cars were everywhere. People were hysterical. He texted Kendrick and called over and over. No response. John, who coached a robotics team at the school, used an app to try to get in touch with the group of kids. Names began popping up. They were safe, they wrote. “Kendrick’s name never came up,” John said. He and Maria caught word that Kendrick might be at a local hospital. A police officer raced them to Littleton Adventist, where they were pulled

aside into a small room. A nurse asked them to provide any identifying factors of their son. He wore Ray-Ban reading glasses, John told the nurse. She said she was so sorry. The Castillos went home that evening and collapsed on the couch in the spot where Kendrick used to lay. “I felt like it wasn’t real,” John said. “We kept hoping we would hear his Jeep exhaust in the driveway.” Part of him wishes his son would have run or hid, John said. But that wasn’t Kendrick. He was selfless, valiant. In the aftermath of tragedy, he would have wanted his parents to think about the teacher in that classroom, the students in that school, his dad said. Kendrick wouldn’t want

them to think about his death. As the STEM community tries to make sense of it all, John doesn’t want to see people blaming guns or the school building’s safety. The solutions are simpler than that, he said. “We have to be better people,” he said. “If you are going to have kids in this world, you need to be all in.” Shallenberger, Kendrick’s engineering teacher, echoed that sentiment. Now, more than ever, people need to put down their phones and be present. “We just need to love each other,” Shallenberger said. “We need to reengage with one another.” The grief is overwhelming for the Castillos, who say they feel like they’ve lost their purpose. What’s helping them heal is the strong support from the community. They want to hear stories of their son. They want those who knew Kendrick to reach out to talk. They want their son to be remembered as the “extraordinary” young man he was. “I’d like the world to know that he’s just not your normal person,” John said. “He is special.”

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