HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – As a family and a community prepared to say goodbye to Kendrick Castillo on Wednesday, hundreds of Jeep owners lined the roadway in honor of a fallen hero. Castillo, who died charging a gunman in his classroom at STEM School Highlands Ranch, was known as a lover of all things Jeep.
In his honor, strangers who own Jeeps helped escort his casket to his funeral.
“They teach you in school to run away. And he did the exact opposite,” said Stephani Kailey, organizer of the Jeep rally. “Kendrick is a hero.”
Though nearly every Jeep driver in the processional did not know Castillo personally, they all expressed extreme gratitude for the story of his heroism.
“What he did there that day, I don’t know if a lot of people would do,” Kailey said.
Those attending the processional in Jeeps said this was just one way they could show the Castillo Family how much their son means to the community.
Hundreds of Jeeps lined Colorado Boulevard in Highlands Ranch for the processional. The first Jeep behind the hearse was Castillo’s Jeep. After that, the next Jeep was driven by some of his friends who shared his final lunch with him a week prior in his Jeep.
“I think we all wish he didn’t do what he did. But, he wouldn’t be Kendrick if he didn’t,” said Joe Eriqat, one of Castillo’s friends. “I wouldn’t of seen him going out any other way.”
When it came to life, friends told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas Castillo often drove the most well-maintained vehicle at school. His pride in his Jeep was known by many.
“Only his friends mattered more,” Eriqat said.
Some said that may explain why Castillo jumped in to action so quickly, saving his classmates and sacrificing himself.
At the processional Jeeps of all models, years and colors were lined up. Most had blue and yellow ribbons tied to them, STEM School’s colors.
Others, like Leah Feldman, elected to put stickers on their windows. Feldman said she purchased hers, which said Kendrick’s name under a Jeep drawing, from someone who was donating all proceeds to Castillo’s family.
“It was a no brainer to show my respects and give him some sort of sending off,” Feldman said.
“This is exactly how he should be sent off,” Eriqat said.
Friends said Castillo would likely be embarrassed by all the attention, and publicity, he was getting.
“He would think (all of the Jeeps were) really cool. He would think it was awesome that there were so many people just to commemorate the hero that he was,” said Charles Burroughs, one of Castillo’s close friends.
Eriqat said Castillo is probably in heaven laughing out of embarrassment at it all.
“Well, suck it up buddy. Because, we love you,” Eriqat said. “This last week has shown his family exactly how much they are loved, and how many people Kendrick touched.”