DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Kendrick Castillo, the teenager who died while tackling a school shooter in May 2019, could soon be permanently enshrined as an American Hero by the Trump administration. Douglas County Commissioners officially submitted a nomination to the Department of the Interior for a statue of Castillo to be erected at the planned National Garden of American Heroes, which President Donald Trump hopes to have completed before 2026.
Castillo is one of many people being considered by the federal government for enshrinement in the future garden. Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas told CBS4 Kendrick was an easy pick when they considered who to nominate.
“We looked at the definition of a hero. It says, ‘A person who is admired, or idealized, for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.’” Thomas said. “As soon as I read that, I thought: Kendrick Castillo. This is a young man who gave his life to save others.”
Castillo was killed prior to high school graduation in 2019. His classmates said he was charging one of two shooters at STEM School Highlands Ranch when he was shot. While other classmates helped wrestle the firearm away from the shooters, they survived. Castillo did not survive.
Because of Castillo’s heroic actions, hundreds of students were able to return home that night. Some were wounded by gunfire, others emotionally traumatized.
Though Thomas did not have any students in STEM at the time of the shooting, she was still emotional while talking about Kendrick’s heroism. She wiped tears from her eyes as she recalled how many lives Kendrick helped save.
“Other parents found their kids, and (Kendrick’s parents) John and Maria didn’t. It is because of the bravery of their son that many parents were reunited with their children that day,” Thomas said. “Not everybody has this courage. But, Kendrick had it. And, it is something that kids should aspire to have.”
John Castillo told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas he was honored to hear his son was selected for consideration, and felt Kendrick was the perfect person to be enshrined.
“Kendrick embodies what a hero means to me,” Castillo said. “We know that there is people walking around that will hopefully live a full life because of his sacrifice. They literally break down in tears in front of us and tell us they wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for Kendrick. It is a bittersweet struggle we deal with every day.”
The Castillos recently received a phone call from Trump. Though brief, Trump told them he believes Kendrick is an American hero. The Castillos agree, saying their son helped defend his peers from domestic terrorism.
When it comes to building a statue for local heroes, Castillo said Kendrick should be at the forefront of those being considered.
“We see so many monuments and statues being taken down. To have one put of someone who represents wholeheartedness and good is beyond words,” Castillo said.