Parents of student who died tackling shooter suing school

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Saturday, January 4, 2020
Parents of student who died tackling shooter suing school
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The parents of a student who helped tackle one of the gunmen during school shooting are suing the school.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colorado -- The parents of a student who helped tackle one of the gunmen during a school shooting are suing the school, alleging administrators missed warning signs that could have prevented the shooting.

Kendrick Castillo, an 18-year-old senior at STEM School Highlands Ranch, died of wounds sustained while attempting to stop one of the two shooters.

RELATED: Kendrick Castillo, student who helped tackle Colo. gunmen, fatally shot

The Castillos allege the school failed to respond appropriately to a parent's warning about the risk of a shooting. They also said there was no response to edits to the school's Wikipedia page that appear disturbing in the aftermath of the shooting. By April 29, an unnamed person working from a computer in Littleton changed a line about the school's programs to prevent suicide and school shootings to add: "Do they work? We shall see."

The Castillos are seeking at least $500,000 for wrongful death and other damages.

Brendan Bialy, who fought back alongside Kendrick Castillo and Joshua Jones, has filed a claim seeking $1 million for lost earnings potential and psychological injuries.

Bialy wasn't physically hurt when he helped rush the gunman, but he said in his claim against the school that he already has had to step away from his career with the U.S. Marines because of psychological injuries. He submitted his claim for the "extreme trauma, PTSD, grief and anxiety," he has suffered since the shooting.

Bialy also included the Douglas County Sheriff's Office in his claim, for allegedly failing to protect the school. The school didn't have a school resource officer, because of a disagreement over the duties the officer should perform.

Bialy alleged that the two suspects were known to have mental health problems, but the school didn't provide adequate help to them or notify their parents. He also said the older suspect was able to leave and reenter the school on the day of the shooting without having to explain what was in the guitar case he was using to hold weapons.

Two other families, whose children didn't come into direct contact with the STEM shooters, filed claims against the school as well, saying their kids suffered nightmares and flashbacks to the shooting from hearing gunshots outside their classrooms.

Madeline and Alan Lofblad filed a claim on behalf of their son, who was a senior at STEM School at the time of the shooting. They said he and his theater classmates had to hide in their classroom when they heard gunfire in the hallways, and that he has needed medical treatment for emotional trauma.

Holly and Steve Sterquell also filed claims on behalf of their two children. One of their children was in a theater class, and said she had to lock the classroom door when her teacher "froze." The other child said he thought he heard someone trying to get into his classroom during the shooting. Both are still undergoing treatment, the claim letter said.

Eight students were wounded in the shooting. Both suspects were apprehended and will be tried as adults on charges of murder and attempted murder, though one is still a juvenile. According to KCNC, the older suspect pleaded not guilty Thursday, and has signaled he may pursue a defense related to his mental health.

The Claire Davis Act, named for the student who died in the 2013 shooting at Arapahoe High School, allows Colorado parents to sue if a school doesn't exercise "reasonable care" to protect students from violence. It's difficult to determine how a court might define reasonable care, though.