Two students arrested in school shooting appear in court

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (AP) — The three students who disarmed a gunman in a Colorado school shooting leapt up from their desks without a word and with no thought for their own safety when they spotted the gun, recounted one of the young men.

They slammed the teenager, a classmate of theirs, against the wall and struggled with him when shots rang out. Kendrick Castillo, who led the charge, slumped to the ground.

His close friend, Brendan Bialy, wrestled the gun away and called out to Castillo. There was no response, Bialy told a roomful of reporters on Wednesday as he recalled what happened the previous day at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

"Kendrick went out as a hero," Bialy said. "He was a foot away from the shooter and instead of running the opposite direction he ran toward it."

Authorities said the actions of Castillo, Bialy and Joshua Jones minimized the bloodshed from Tuesday's attack at the school south of Denver that wounded eight students along with killing the 18-year-old Castillo.

The injured includes Jones, who was shot twice, according to a statement released by his family.

Bialy acknowledged that he was scared, but he said he wasn't going to cower for shooters he repeatedly called cowards.

"They lost," he said of the shooters. "They completely and utterly lost to good people."

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Shooting at Denver-area STEM school
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Shooting at Denver-area STEM school
Joshua Jones, front, who was wounded while trying to stop a gunman involved in the attack on the STEM School Highlands Ranch last week, speaks during a news conference as his mother, Lorie, looks on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Littleton, Colo. Jones, Kendrick Castillo and Brendan Bialy tackled the teen who opened fire at the school south of Denver on May 7. Castillo was fatally shot. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Lorie Jones, back, makes a point while her son Joshua, who was wounded while trying to stop a gunman involved in the attack on the STEM School Highlands Ranch last week, looks on during a news conference Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Littleton, Colo. Jones, Kendrick Castillo and Brendan Bialy tackled the teen who opened fire at the school south of Denver on May 7. Castillo was fatally shot. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Jones, back, considers a question as his son, Joshua, who was wounded while trying to stop a gunman involved in the attack on the STEM School Highlands Ranch last week, looks on during a news conference Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Littleton, Colo. Jones, Kendrick Castillo and Brendan Bialy tackled the teen who opened fire at the school south of Denver on May 7. Castillo was fatally shot. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Brendan Bialy jokes with reporters as he recounts his role in stopping the attack at the STEM School Highlands Ranch Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. Eighteen-year-old Bialy said he, Kendrick Castillo and a third student tried to stop the gunman on Tuesday by charging at him at the STEM School Highlands Ranch. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Brendan Bialy hands back a microphone after he spoke about his role in stopping the attack at the STEM School Highlands Ranch during a news conference Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. Bialy is a member of the Marines' Delayed Entry program and the Marines say Bialy put his own safety at risk and showed "courage and commitment" in helping tackle a gunman on Tuesday in the STEM School Highlands Ranch in the south Denver suburbs. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Brendan Bialy, third from left, joins mother Dena Martin, right, father Brad Bialy, far left, and attorney Mark Bryant to speak about his role in stopping the attack at the STEM School Highlands Ranch during a news conference Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. Eighteen-year-old Bialy said he, Kendrick Castillo and a third student tried to stop the gunman by charging at him during Tuesday's attack at the STEM School Highlands Ranch. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Devon Erickson, an accused STEM School shooter, appears at the Douglas County Courthouse in Castle Rock, Colo., Wednesday, May 8, 2019. The attackers were identified by law enforcement officials as 18-year-old Erickson and a younger student who is a juvenile and was not named. They allegedly walked into the STEM School Highlands Ranch through an entrance without metal detectors and opened fire in two classrooms. (Joe Amon/The Denver Post via AP, Pool)
Devon Erickson, an accused STEM school shooter, signs paperwork during his advisement at the Douglas County Courthouse in Castle Rock, Colo., Wednesday, May 8, 2019. The attackers were identified by law enforcement officials as 18-year-old Erickson and a younger student who is a juvenile and was not named. They allegedly walked into the STEM School Highlands Ranch through an entrance without metal detectors and opened fire in two classrooms. (Joe Amon/The Denver Post via AP, Pool)
Devon Erickson, an accused STEM school shooter, answers the judge during his advisement at the Douglas County Courthouse in Castle Rock, Colo., Wednesday, May 8, 2019. The attackers were identified by law enforcement officials as 18-year-old Erickson and a younger student who is a juvenile and was not named. They allegedly walked into the STEM School Highlands Ranch through an entrance without metal detectors and opened fire in two classrooms. (Joe Amon/The Denver Post via AP, Pool)
A photograph of student Kendrick Castillo stands amid a display of tributes outside the STEM School Highlands Ranch a week after the attack on the school that left Castillo dead and others injured, Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A display grows outside the STEM School Highlands Ranch a week after the attack on the school that left one student dead and others injured, Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Student Kendrick Castillo pictured in the display was was fatally wounded in the May 7 shooting. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Young women console each other during a community vigil to honor the victims and survivors of yesterday's fatal shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch, Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Display grows outside the STEM School Highlands Ranch a week after the attack on the school that left one student dead and others injured Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Attendees illuminate their mobile telephones during a community vigil to honor the victims and survivors of yesterday's fatal shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch, late Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
RETRANSMIT WITH ALTERNATE CROP Officials guide students off a bus and into a recreation center where they were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Parents gather in a circle to pray at a recreation center where students were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A parent leaves the recreation center where students were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, right, confers with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis during a news conference on Tuesday's shooting at a charter school, Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A Douglas County, Colo., Sheriff's Department deputy walks the perimeter of the parking lot outside the STEM School Highlands Ranch after a shooting Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A Douglas County, Colo., Sheriff's Department vehicle blocks the entrance to the west parking lot of the STEM School Highlands Ranch after a shooting Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
School buses arrive at a recreation center set up for students to get reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A parent leaves with a child from the recreation center where students were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Fire and police gather at the recreation center where students were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Parents leave a recreation center with their child where students were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Parents hug as they wait for the arrival of their children at the recreation center where the students were reunited with their parents Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Students step off a bus and head into a recreation center where they were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Students are led from a bus into a recreation center where they were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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The attackers were identified by law enforcement officials as 18-year-old Devon Erickson and a 16-year-old who prosecutors identified as Maya McKinney but whose attorney said uses male pronouns and the name Alec. The two allegedly walked into the STEM School Highlands Ranch through an entrance without metal detectors and opened fire in two classrooms.

Because the attack happened only miles from Columbine High School and just weeks after the shooting's 20th anniversary, questions quickly arose about whether it was inspired by the 1999 massacre. But investigators offered no immediate motive.

A member of the school's robotics club and a relentless tinkerer, Castillo had an infectious smile and gentle sense of humor, according to friends. He worked part-time at a local manufacturing company that had offered him a job after an internship because he was such a standout employee.

"To find he went down as a hero, I'm not surprised. That's exactly who Kendrick was," said Rachel Short, president of the company, Baccara.

Cecilia Bedard, 19, had known Castillo since elementary school and said he was always friendly, modest and excited to help people. He made a point of always joining his father at Knights of Columbus fundraisers and bingo nights.

"He was amazing," Bedard said. "He was honestly the sweetest kid I ever met. Never said a mean joke."

The security guard who detained the second armed suspect was employed by Boss High Level Protection, a company started by a former SWAT team leader who responded to the Columbine shooting. The owner, Grant Whitus, told The Associated Press the security guard is a former Marine who ran to the area of the shootings and confronted one of the armed students in a hallway.

The guard drew his weapon and apprehended the person, Whitus said.

"He doesn't even realize how many lives he saved by stopping a school shooting," Whitus said.

Both suspects were students at the school, and they were not previously known to authorities, Spurlock said.

Erickson made his first court appearance Wednesday and kept his head down. His black hair, streaked with purple dye, covered his face as he nodded in response to most of District Court Judge Theresa Slade's questions. At one point, the judge requested a verbal answer to whether he had any questions about the proceedings. Erickson simply replied "No."

McKinney, who has a short brown haircut, made eye contact with the judge and answered questions in a clear but quiet voice, saying "Yes, your honor" and "No, your honor."

District attorney George Brauchler said he has not decided whether to file adult charges but added that McKinney is old enough to be charged as an adult without a judge's review.

Formal charges were expected to be filed by Friday. Brauchler said he could not discuss any motive or weapons used in the attack.

Brauchler said the community remains resilient in the face of multiple shootings, including the 1999 Columbine school massacre, the 2012 theater shooting in the Denver suburb of Aurora and the 2013 shooting at Arapahoe High School.

The attacks are "aberrant acts" although they might seem otherwise to the rest of the world, he said. "Who we are is a kind, compassionate, caring people, and this does not define us."

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