Colorado school shooting victim Kendrick Castillo died trying to stop the gunman

An 18-year-old student who died during the Colorado school shooting has been hailed a hero for the courageous move that cost him his life, but saved countless others.

Kendrick Castillo died when he lunged at the shooter, a fellow classmate at STEM School Highlands Ranch said. These few seconds gave other students invaluable time to run. 

Kendrick's father, John Castillo, told CNN: "I know that because of what he did, others are alive, and I thank God for that. I love him. And he is a hero and he always will be."

The two suspects accused of the shooting made their first court appearances on Wednesday (local time). Devon Erickson, 18, and Alec McKinney, 16, both students at the school, are set to appear in court again on Friday.

Devon Erickson, 18, Colorado school shooting suspect.
Devon Erickson, 18, appeared at Douglas County Courthouse on Wednesday. He faces murder and attempted murder charges. Photo credit: Reuters/Joe Amon

Eight other students were wounded in the attack.

Kendrick was sitting in his British literature class watching a film when the shooter pulled out a gun on his classmates. Kendrick's heroic decision to tackle the shooter encouraged three others to also lunge at the gunman, allowing the rest of the class to flee.

According to his father, Kendrick was an only child who counted his friends as family.

"He just loved people that much," Castillo said to CNN.

His father said Kendrick was a big sharer and loved to host holiday gift exchanges. He would always be the one to pay for a friend if they didn't have money.

"Selfless, that's what my son was," Castillo said.

"And it got him killed."

A fellow student who helped disarm the gunman, Brendan Bialy, said: "Kendrick Castillo died a legend... I know he will be with me for the rest of my life."

STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
The school is still considered a crime scene. Photo credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

When Castillo and his wife Maria learned of their son's death, they rushed to the school where his body was still lying.

Numerous students came up to them offering their condolences and calling Kendrick a hero.

"This wasn't your average kid," Castillo said.

"He was extraordinary."