HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – When a student opened fire inside STEM School Highlands Ranch on Tuesday, at least one student jumped into action. One student being praised for his heroic action is Marine poolee Brendan Bialy. A poolee is an individual who has already met all the requirements, signed a contract and taken the Oath of Enlistment but has not yet left for boot camp.
The U.S. armed forces Oath of Enlistment requires service members to swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States against all enemies — foreign and domestic. On Wednesday, the U.S. Marine Corps released a statement commending Bialy taking swift action.
“Brendan’s courage and commitment to swiftly ending this tragic incident at the risk of his own safety is admirable and inspiring. His decisive actions resulted in the safety and protection of his teachers and fellow classmates,” the officials stated on the Marines website.
Bialy is a current poolee in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program (DEP) and is scheduled to ship to recruit training this summer.
Bialy said the real hero was 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo, who was the first to try to subdue a suspect.
“He passed away. I saw it happen. I want to make it clear. Kendrick Castillo died a legend… I love that kid,” Bialy said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“Kendrick went out as a hero… he was a foot away from the shooter and instead of running away he ran toward it,” Bialy said.
“Kendrick is like a bowling ball… the gunman was against the wall… he didn’t know what hit him,” Bialy said. “Kendrick went up, I went up… I happened to be on the right side.”
“I refuse to be a victim. Kendrick refused to be a victim,” said Bialy.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said there was at least one student that encountered the suspects and that he expects to hear about heroic actions by other students, as well.
“We do know that there were students, and we’re going to hear about very heroic things that have taken place,” Sheriff Spurlock said. “We do know that there was at least one, that we can verify, a student that encountered the suspects. And I suspect, that as the detectives get further interviews from them we are going to find that there were much more heroic things.”
Another student told the ‘Today’ show that Castillo died a hero.
“Kendrick lunged at him and he shot Kendrick, giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks, to get ourselves safe and to run out of, across the room to escape,” Nui Giasolli said through her tears.
“I want to thank Brendan Bialy, Jackson Gregory and Lucas Albertoni to be some of the kids who were brave enough to bring him down so that all of us could escape and all of us could be reunited with our families,” Giasolli added.
CBS4 talked to a teen outside Littleton Adventist Hospital Tuesday night who said one of his friends helped take down one of the suspects.
“He actually helped fight off the shooter. With his help, a couple of other kids were able to pin [the shooter] to the ground,” Michael Schwartz told CBS4. “Because of that he got shot a lot more than everyone else.”
It’s not clear whether Schwartz was referring to Castillo or another student.
Schwartz says he formerly attended STEM School but is now a student at Arapahoe High School.
“They were all in my class, my senior class, so I know pretty much all of them. So, just looking to see anyone I can, really,” Schwartz said.
Investigators have not released the names of the eight other students who were injured in the shooting. As of Wednesday morning, one injured student was still hospitalized at SkyRidge Medical Center and two remained hospitalized at Littleton Adventist Hospital.
Officials with GoFundMe confirmed that an account has been set up to accept donations for the victims and the money will be held until it is determined how it will be dispersed.
The suspects in Tuesday’s shooting are an 18-year-old student and a juvenile female student. The 18-year-old suspect is being held on 30 counts, including one count of first-degree murder after deliberation and 29 counts of attempted first-degree murder, according to court records.