DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Around two dozen jeeps lined up on the side of Waterton Road on Friday morning to join a procession for the parents of Kendrick Castillo, before the defendant found guilty of killing their son at STEM School Highlands Ranch in May 2019 was sentenced in court. John and Maria Castillo drove in their son’s car followed by the other Jeeps in the group to the Douglas County Courthouse with signs and messages on those vehicles to honor his memory.
“We just wanted to come out and support John and Maria,” said David Gardner, a Jeep owner who helped organize the procession with Castillo. “Kendrick was a big Jeep guy.”
The procession worked its way south along Highway 85 into Castle Rock before all the Jeeps gathered in the parking lot of the courthouse. John Castillo thanked each of the drivers as they arrived at their final destination. He spoke to them before walking into the building to address the court and the man who killed his son.
“When he lost his life they never forgot him,” Mr. Castillo said standing outside among the other drivers. “They were the first ones there to rally support and support our family and they never stopped.”
Gardner has been a part of other processions and followed the case, touched by the strength of the Castillo family as they have handled each development in the process. He was joined by friends but also by those who he does not know personally. The event was organized in part on Facebook, where a group on the social media platform has more than 1,900 members who commit to honoring Kendrick’s memory.
“It’s just the smallest little gesture to just try to show support for them,” Gardner told CBS4 before the procession began. “It’s an impossible task to have to go and sit through and hear and see the things that they’ve seen.”
Copter4 followed the procession as the Jeeps traveled about 13 miles to make the drive lasting around 20 minutes. The drivers huddled together and stayed with the family before they were ready to face what waited them inside the courtroom.
“All these people came out just to try and make this day maybe just the slightest bit better for them,” Gardner said. “Several of us are friends but ultimately together we are a community. But we don’t all know each other but we all came out for the same reason which was to show our support for the Castillo family.”
Mr. Castillo acknowledged that these Jeep drivers work together regularly to raise money for charity, not just those that highlight the spirit of their son, but also other important causes for issues in Colorado like wildfire relief. He addressed many of the issues around his son’s death, the case, and the need to prosecute defendants like the one in this case. But he made sure to express his gratitude many times to those with him in the parking lot.
“To be here today is just powerful, it’s amazing, we love all of them,” he said.
Castillo spoke about watching over the case and keeping his son’s memory alive well after he and his wife are gone. It is part of the commitment these drivers have shown they will make to carry on the story of someone they see as a hero.
“Everybody here of course knows the story of Kendrick, the things he did are just, nobody should ever forget,” Gardner said. “Nobody wants to forget Kendrick at all, we want to make sure that everybody knows who Kendrick was.”