Hundreds of Jeeps Pay Tribute to 18-Year-Old Jeep Owner Killed Thwarting School Shooting

Rich Ceppos
Photo credit: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images - Getty Images

From Car and Driver

  • High-school senior Kendrick Castillo was killed when he rushed a school shooter at the STEM School Highlands Ranch in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on May 7.
  • Castillo, who would have graduated this spring, owned a first-gen Jeep Cherokee and loved off-roading.
  • A Jeep owner who participated in off-road events, Castillo was honored by local Jeep clubs with a memorial procession of Jeeps numbering in the hundreds.

Jeep owners are thick on the ground in Colorado, and they are known to have a sense of occasion. So it's fitting that, to honor one of their own-18-year-old Kendrick Castillo, killed in the most recent of an epidemic of U.S. school shooting incidents-they brought hundreds of Jeeps to line the streets of a Denver suburb in a funeral procession on Wednessday.

According to news reports, Castillo and two classmates, Joshua Jones and Brendon Bialy, did not hesitate when a classmate pulled a gun in their class. The students were in their British literature class at the STEM School Highlands Ranch in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on May 7. The three reportedly instantly jumped up and charged the shooter, with Castillo leading the way. According to Bialy, Castillo barreled into the gunman, pinning him down. Castillo was killed by the ensuing gunfire, and Jones was shot twice through the leg. A second gunman was subdued elsewhere in the school by a security guard. Seven other students are said to have been wounded in the attacks.

Photo credit: via Colorado Jeep Girls - CBS

As the community mourned Castillo's passing, local Jeep aficionados found an especially appropriate way to celebrate his heroism: they put together a procession consisting of hundreds of Jeeps from Colorado's numerous off-road Jeep clubs. Castillo was a huge fan of the brand, owned a first-generation Jeep Cherokee, and participated in off-road events with it. The procession was led by officers from the Douglas County sheriff department; it was the first time they'd led a procession for a fallen civilian. "Our office felt strongly about recognizing the Castillo family and Kendrick," Lt. Chris Washburn explained, "and we just wanted to honor them."

The procession ended at a memorial service attended by an estimated 2000 people. There, Kendrick's father, John, talked about his son's selflessness. "He would want me to have the strength to help everybody heal. Because he knows there's not anything I can do for him now other than reach out to his friends and make sure their comfort and their family's is there. If there's anything that I can do for any of you, you can pick up the phone or walk in my door."

"If I had to describe him," John Castillo continued, "first it would be love, the love for anybody he met. He was compassionate. If you were walking on the street and stumbled, he'd walk over to make sure you were okay. It's no secret to us that Kendrick did what he had to do. To carry on his life's message we need to be more like him."

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