Denver Suburb Reels After School Shooting Kills 1 Student, Injures 8

Originally published on May 9, 2019 8:05 am
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NOEL KING, HOST:

One student was killed and eight others injured after a school shooting on Tuesday. A suburban community outside of Denver is left reeling. Hundreds of people attended a public vigil last night to honor victims from the STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colo. But what was intended as a memorial soon became political. Colorado Public Radio's Avery Lill has more.

AVERY LILL, BYLINE: Students and adults from the surrounding community filled the bleachers and sat on the floor in a high school gym. A student organization focused on gun reform from a school near STEM organized the vigil. U.S. Representative Jason Crow and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet both spoke about passing legislation to protect children. Here's Bennet.

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MICHAEL BENNET: I know our kids already have enough to do. Their job is not to fix America's broken gun laws.

LILL: Eighteen-year-old Kendrick Castillo was killed trying to stop a gunman. The two shooters, both students at the school, were eventually subdued and taken into custody. Both appeared in court on Wednesday, and prosecutors are expected to file charges on Friday. But the vigil turned tumultuous as students from the STEM School felt the vigil gave too much time to politicians and not enough time to remembering the victims. Many of the students chose to walk out, but they eventually were given a chance on the mic and returned to the gymnasium where they shared memories of Castillo.

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GAVIN: We are pretty much really mad 'cause they turned us into politics about gun control when we came here to respect our brother, Kendrick.

LILL: That's Gavin (ph), a STEM student. And Zachary Vangelisti (ph) graduated last year and was in student government with Castillo.

ZACHARY VANGELISTI: You know, he was just a compassionate, brilliant and kind kid. And I'm really sad that, you know, he was forced to do what he had to do yesterday.

LILL: Event organizers apologized for offending STEM students and said they were glad they spoke and were part of the commemoration.

For NPR News, I'm Avery Lill in Denver, Colo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.