Kendrick Castillo’s killer convicted of murder

Kendrick Castillo Kendrick Castillo and his father, John Castillo | Courtesy: Knights of Columbus #4844 via Facebook

The man who shot and killed Kendrick Castillo was convicted of murder in Colorado's Douglas County District Court on Tuesday, and could face life in prison without parole. 

Castillo was an 18 year-old Catholic who died on May 7, 2019 while trying to disarm a shooter at STEM School Highlands Ranch in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. He was the only person killed in the attack at the school; eight others were injured.

Devon Erickson, 20 years old and one of the two school shooters, was convicted of more than 40 charges - including three counts of first-degree murder - on Tuesday, June 15. He was also charged with 31 counts of attempted murder, as well as arson, theft, criminal mischief, burglary, reckless endangerment, and possessing a weapon on school grounds. 

The jury deliberated for four and a half hours before returning a guilty verdict. According to Courthouse News, Erickson faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. He will be formally sentenced on September 17.

The other shooter at the Highlands Ranch attack, Alec McKinney, pleaded guilty in February 2020 and was sentenced to life in prison. McKinney was 16 years old at the time of the shooting, and could be eligible for parole in approximately 20 years. 

McKinney was born female and was undergoing gender-transitioning procedures at the time of the shooting. According to court documents reported by, McKinney “wanted the kids at the school to experience bad things, have to suffer from trauma like he has had to in his life.”

Lawyers for Erickson claimed that their client was manipulated by McKinney, who they said organized and filmed the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch. The two students, who attended the school, entered the building on May 7, 2019, carrying guns in guitar cases. They opened fire in two locations. 

According to McKinney, the original plan was to kill everyone in the classroom. After doing this, Erickson would then kill McKinney, and say that McKinney was responsible for all the other deaths. 

Castillo, who was the only person killed in the attack, tackled Erickson after he pulled out a gun in his classroom. Erickson shot Castillo in the chest, killing him. Castillo’s other classmates managed to subdue Erickson before he could shoot anyone else. 

Kendrick’s father, John Castillo, said that the verdict was “justice” for his son, and that he was “sure Kendrick was looking down on us today.” 

“I never thought I’d be fighting for justice for a crime that should never have happened,” said John Castillo. 

John Castillo is a member of his local Knights of Columbus council. After Kendrick’s death, the Knights of Columbus honored him with the Caritas Medal at the 137th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in August 2019. The convention also unanimously granted him full membership in the organization, posthumously.

The Caritas Medal is the second-highest award in the Knights of Columbus, and is given to those “who most profoundly embrace our order’s principles of charity in their service and their sacrifice for others.”

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