Kendrick Castillo was kind, talented, a hero.
Castillo was killed in the May 7 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch. He was less than two weeks away from graduation.
His senior quote: “The most difficult roads lead us to the most beautiful places.”
Penny Eucker, executive director of STEM, called Castillo the “glue of the senior class.” He was always positive, she said. Everyone who met him felt safe with him.
“He did have a transcendent smile and he was an angel among us,” Eucker said, holding back tears. “When people say be kind, he was the definition of that.”
Castillo, 18, charged a shooter who had entered his classroom in an effort to save others, classmates said.
Castillo was a member of FIRST Robotics Competition Team 4418, according to a Facebook post from FIRST.
He was also among the first students to intern at Panther Industries, an automated labeling equipment manufacturer in Highlands Ranch, just down the road from STEM. Then just 16 years old, Castillo was determined to learn all facets of a professional manufacturing job.
“Our hearts go out to Kendrick’s family and friends, and to all affected by the shooting,” FIRST, a nonprofit robotics organization based in New Hampshire, wrote on Facebook.
Brendan Kerr, a sophomore at STEM, looked up to Castillo, he said. They were in a physical education class together.
“He was a good friend,” Kerr said. “I’ll remember him as a hero.”
STEM student Nui Giasolli told NBC’s “Today’’ show that she was in her British literature class when one of the two suspects came in and pulled out a gun.
Castillo lunged at the gunman, who shot the teen. Castillo’s swift action gave the rest of the class time to get underneath their desks and then run across the room to escape, Giasolli said.
Castillo, friend and classmate Brendan Bialy said, felt an obligation to protect his fellow students. Bialy said Castillo rushed the shooter and was like a “bowling ball” coming toward him. Bialy said he and another classmate, who was injured and did not want to be identified, helped Castillo bring the suspect down.
Bialy, who was not injured, said Castillo was interested in cars and the two met in an internal combustion class at STEM. Bialy said the two of them would cruise around and just talk or watch funny videos together.
“Kendrick Castillo died a legend,” Bialy said. “He died a trooper... I love that kid.”
Rachel Short said Castillo was a funny and empathetic person who loved others and was a part-time employee at her manufacturing company, Baccara USA, based in Englewood.
“To find he went down as a hero, I’m not surprised,” Short said. “That’s exactly who Kendrick was.”
Cecilia Bedard, 19, knew Castillo since elementary school and said he was always friendly, modest and excited to help people. He made a point of always joining his father at Knights of Columbus fundraisers and bingo nights.
“He was amazing,’’ Bedard said. “He was honestly the sweetest kid I ever met. Never said a mean joke.’’
— Colorado Community Media reporter Nick Puckett and The Associated Press contributed to this report.