Colorado students walked out of a school shooting vigil and called it a ‘political stunt’ when lawmakers brought up gun control

Students protesting the media and politicians brought their vigil outside of Highlands Ranch High to honor their fallen friend Kendrick Castillo by lighting up their phones in the rain on May 8, 2019 in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

caption
Students protesting the media and politicians brought their vigil outside of Highlands Ranch High to honor their fallen friend Kendrick Castillo by lighting up their phones in the rain on May 8, 2019 in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
source
The Denver Post/Helen H. Richardson via Getty Images

  • Students who survived a shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado this week walked out of a vigil Wednesday evening, saying the event had turned into a “political stunt.”
  • The vigil was supposed to honor shooting victim Kendrick Castillo, but students said they weren’t permitted to speak about him.
  • Instead, Democratic lawmakers gave speeches about gun-control legislation.
  • The students reportedly stormed out of the event, chanting “this is not for us” and “political stunt,” and held their own vigil in the rain.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

Hundreds of students who survived Tuesday’s shooting at Colorado’s STEM School Highlands Ranch walked out of a vigil Wednesday evening, enraged that the event had turned into a “political stunt.”

The students said the event had been advertised as a vigil to honor shooting victim Kendrick Castillo, but was actually a gun-control rally that featured speeches by Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Jason Crow.

The students, believing Wednesday’s rally wrongly politicized their trauma and grief, stormed out of the event, chanting “this is not for us” and “political stunt,” and held their own vigil in the rain, USA Today reported.

Students who spoke out after the incident said they had hoped to speak about Castillo at the vigil, but weren’t allowed.

Castillo, 18, has been hailed as a hero in the wake of the shooting. He was fatally shot after he lunged at the gunman, allowing classmates time to hide or escape, witnesses said.

Read more: Multiple students hurled themselves at the gunman to stop a shooting at their high school in Colorado. One died protecting his classmates.

“We wanted Kendrick to be mourned. We wanted all of you to join us in that mourning, but that was not allowed here,” one student said, according to 9 News. “We all walked out, we were not kicked out, despite what you have heard. We’re back now to tell you that we love Kendrick and we love all of the survivors.”

The students also lashed out at the media who attended the impromptu vigil, reportedly pushing and shouting at journalists who had taken photos.

The event had been organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a nonprofit that advocates for gun-control policies.

The Brady Campaign apologized for the tone of the event on Wednesday, and told INSIDER in a statement the vigil was intended to “show solidarity” with the students and community.

“We are deeply sorry any part of this vigil did not provide the support, caring and sense of community we sought to foster and facilitate and which we know is so crucial to communities who suffer the trauma of gun violence,” the statement said. “Our deepest condolences are with the STEM School students, faculty, and families. All efforts should be focused on providing them support in this time of crisis.”