“It doesn’t surprise me,” John Castillo told the Denver Post. “He cared enough about people that he would do something like that, even though it’s against my better judgment.”
“I wish he had gone and hid,” Castillo added, “but that’s not his character. His character is about protecting people, helping people.”
Kendrick’s friends and fellow students share the same sentiment, Haynes said.
“Every time I see a new kid that is in shock or crying, I ask - ‘But are you surprised?’ And they say ‘No, I’m not surprised at all. I’m just mad because I didn’t want him to have to do it. But of course he was going to do it.’”
Haynes said she remembers Kendrick as an unfailingly kind student, who cared deeply about everyone, who tried hard in school, and who wasn’t afraid to have fun and be goofy.
“Kendrick is probably one of the funniest people I've ever known,” Haynes said. “He's really quirky and sweet. And quiet, but not really. He's one of those kids that he knows the appropriate time to be quiet, and then when it's the appropriate time for him to just be a total dweeb, he'll be a total dweeb.”
He was always joyful, Haynes said, and funny - as her trove of goofy videos of Kendrick prove, she said. The only time when he was not joyful was at parent-teacher conferences, Haynes recalled. Kendrick tried hard in school, and he loved technology and excelled at science - but math was harder for him, she said.
“He would get so serious at parent-teacher conferences because he struggled academically and...most middle school kids put blame on other people, but he just always took the responsibility so seriously that he would cry,” she recalled.
“And we would tell him, ‘You don't need to cry! We just want you to turn in your work.’ And he'd be like, ‘I'm so sorry.’ He really was such a deep thinker even if he didn't look like it, because he was so jolly. He had this joy that shone through.”
Sr. Loretta Gerk was another teacher who knew Kendrick while he was a student at Notre Dame Catholic School - she taught him in physical education classes, from Kindergarten through eighth grade.
“He was the neatest kid,” Gerk told CNA. “He was so kind and gentle, but yet, he was all boy too, you know what I mean?”
Gerk said that she would sometimes worry about the kind and gentle students, because they could be prone to teasing. But no one ever teased or made fun of Kendrick - he was just too likeable, she said.
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“Kids are sometimes cruel to each other,” she said. “But the kids weren’t mean to him. You couldn’t be mean to him.”
“If any little kids were crying or something, he would go talk to them. He would reach out to them. He would notice those things,” Gerk said.
Gerk said when she found out Kendrick had died in the shooting, her heart and her stomach hurt. When she found out he had died trying to rush the shooter, she thought: “That doesn’t surprise me at all.”
A hunter who loved his elk hunting trips with his father, Kendrick’s familiarity with gun safety may have given him additional courage when he rushed the shooter, Gerk said.
Not only was Kendrick kind in school, but he was also a very helpful and active person at church, Gerk recalled. He would often tag along with his dad to Knights of Columbus events, Gerk said. He would usher at Mass with his dad on Saturday nights, and help serve breakfast with the Knights of Columbus during Catholic Schools week.
“Kendrick would be in the kitchen, and he had a blue apron that said ‘Knights of Columbus.’ Kendrick was in there with his dad, helping,” she said.