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Riding Shotgun With Charlie

May 14, 2024

Riding Shotgun With Charlie


John Castillo

Father of Kendrick Castillo


While on a trip to Denver to film some shows, Laura Carno (RSWC #188) introduced me to John Castillo. He’s the father of a hero, Kendrick Castillo, in the truest sense of the word. Just over 5 years ago, there was a school shooting at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. 


Two students decided to attack the school and shoot as many people as possible then commit suicide. They entered in two separate locations. According to one of the students, one of the shooters entered a room and yelled to everyone ‘don’t move’. Kendrick jumped up and attacked one student, while getting shot in the chest. This gave two other students time to jump up and go after the shooter. One was shot with non-life threatening injuries. Kendrick’s injury was fatal. 


John tells me how he was notified and went to the school. He was texting some other parents, looking for Kendrick. No one saw him. Eventually he made it to the police. There he was able to describe Kendrick and what he was wearing. The officer told him to follow them. They confirmed that Kendrick was shot and died. But John and his wife, Maria, were not able to see Kendrick as his body was at the crime scene. It was several days before he was able to see Kendrick. 


Just the week before, John and Kendrick were out doing some shooting and training at Front Sight Training Institute in Pahrump, NV. There they learned that the best thing to do is to go after the shooter. Most of the time, the shooter is not expecting someone to fight back. Kendrick knew what he was facing, dying while hiding or dying while fighting and saving others. 


While in Littleton, I was able to visit Castillo's home. Kendrick’s bedroom is a shrine to him and his bravery and heroism. There are lots of posthumous awards from several organizations. There’s also awards he earned in robotics. There is also a local brewery, Strange Craft Beer Company,  that makes a special brew in honor of Kendrick every year. John gave me a can from the most recent batch of “Kendrick’s Ale.”


The silver lining is that John and Maria know it wasn’t any of the firearms used that are the reason for Kendrick’s death. It’s the people who wanted to do harm to others before they took their own lives. It’s Kendrick who saved lives and gave his for those people. This hasn’t turned the Castillos into anti gun people. Quite the opposite. They are totally on board with arming school staff.


This led to Laura Carno and John connecting. Laura is with FASTER Colorado FASTER has trained a few thousand school staff in over 300 schools around the country. The program isn’t just for teachers. It’s for any school staff- secretaries, custodians, or teachers. The program started with Jim Irvine (RSWC #186) after the Sandy Hook tragedy. It’s been spreading across the country and currently in Colorado, Ohio, and Arizona. The program takes school staff who want to protect students from learning firearm safety and fundamentals, through trauma first aid, and then into responding to active shooters. I’ve been through the Level 1 course in Ohio a few years ago. It was very impressive! The active shooter training for my group was done in a real school when school was out of session. 


John has been able to go out and speak at various rallies around Colorado talking about how arming school staff. is what needs to be done for the people who want the training and are willing to carry in schools. He does this so other parents won’t have to go through what he and Maria have gone through. They live close to where Kendrick was put to rest. They visit the site everyday. 


I think it’s time to crack that beer. I’ve been waiting to have it until I put this show out. 


Thank you for your heroism. Rest In Peace, Kendrick. 

Favorite quotes:
“Mr. Castillo, Kendrick rushed the shooter.”
“We discovered FASTER Colorado, which supports having armed school staff.”
“He knew what the consequences and the odds if he didn’t act at that moment.”
“Mental health threats, or self harm threats, are not the same as a physical threat."
“We don’t want his life to be in vain that he just rushed a shooter and it was over. There has to be more to it than that.”


FASTER Colorado


FASTER Saves Lives


Denver 7 News recent story

Second Amendment Foundation 


Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms



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