MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A teenage hero who saved the lives of his Colorado classmates during a school shooting in May was honored Tuesday night in Minneapolis.

Kendrick Castillo died when he rushed the shooter at STEM School Highlands Ranch outside Denver. The parents of the 18 year old accepted an award from the Knights of Columbus during their international convention.

Kendrick planned to join the Catholic fraternal organization after graduation. He embodied their values of giving and caring and faith — and ultimately he saved others’ lives, dying a hero.

Thousands of Knights from around the world stood to embrace John and Maria Castillo, parents of Kendrick. They voted to posthumously name the teen a member of the Knights of Columbus, alongside his dad.

“He was a giver and that’s what the Knights are, the Knights are givers,” John Castillo said.

He calls his son his “best friend,” and a young man who had strong character.

“He was an emotional kid that cared about people’s feelings and he always wanted to fix people. That was the love of our son,” John Castillo said.

Kendrick protected his many friends at school last May during a school shooting.

“His heroic act was a defining moment,” John Castillo said.

Kendrick rushed the shooter when he opened fire inside a dark classroom while students were watching a movie.

“He had only seconds to turn his chair and react and pin the shooter against the wall before he lost his life, and I knew right then that had he not made those actions that the 28 people in that room, that they all would have perished,” John Castillo said. “That’s when it sunk home with me that yes, he is a hero that his actions, he martyred his life for others.”

For that act and the selfless way Kendrick lived his life, the Knights presented the Castillos with the Caritas Medal — the second-highest honor bestowed by the Knights for those who “most profoundly embrace the principle of charity in their service and sacrifice for others.”

“I’m grateful, my wife is grateful. The fact that Kendrick isn’t here to receive those in body is very bittersweet, but I am,” John Castillo said. “I’m so honored and I know he’s looking down and he knows. But it’s still just very difficult.”

Kendrick Castillo is the fourth recipient of the Caritas Medal since the Knights board established it in 2013. John Castillo said part of him knows Kendrick would be upset that he’s boasting about his son, but said he needs people to know about the gift we lost.

Jennifer Mayerle

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