Kendrick Ray Castillo, the 18-year-old who sacrificed his life to save other students during a shooting in a suburban Denver high school, loved robotics, helping out the elderly in his community and making people laugh, his friend told Reuters.
Cece Bedard, who knew Castillo since elementary school, said she broke down in tears when she heard her friend had died but was not surprised at his selfless act.
"There is no doubt in my mind that he would have done anything he thought he could have to help anyone," Bedard said Wednesday.
Two teenagers are accused of opening fire on fellow students on Tuesday at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School in Highlands Ranch, about 25 miles (40 km) south of Denver, killing Castillo and injuring eight other students.
Witnesses said Castillo, who was due to graduate from the Colorado high school in three days, charged one of the shooters, who killed him.
"Kendrick lunged at him," senior Nui Giasolli told NBC News, referring to the older of the two shooting suspects, Devon Erickson, 18, who was being held Wednesday on murder and attempted-murder charges.
"He shot Kendrick, giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks, to get ourselves safe, and to run across the room to escape," Giasolli said.
When they were in middle school, Castillo and Bedard both volunteered with their fathers at the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's community service organization.
Castillo loved tagging along with his father to volunteer with the Knights of Columbus, whether it involved carrying heavy crates of fruit for a peach drive or setting up senior lunches.
He was especially good at connecting with the elderly people he served, Bedard said.
"He was always there earlier than I was and was always there later than I was," she said.
His friends remember Castillo as a goofy jokester, although his humor was never at anyone's expense, Bedard said. He had a strong sense of self and did not care what other people thought of him, a trait that made him stand out among his peers.
Castillo was enthusiastic about robotics and was a member of a regional robotics team, another community that was mourning his loss Wednesday.
"We're heartbroken by the death of Kendrick Castillo, a victim of the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting in Littleton, CO. Kendrick was a member of @Frc4418, of which his father is Lead Mentor," tweeted FIRST, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing youth in STEM.