A mural of Kendrick Castillo, the 18-year-old student killed in the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting, has been unveiled in downtown Denver.
The mural, showing Kendrick in a suit and tie, is surrounded by three other murals of people who were victims of violence or abuse. The wall is located in a parking lot at 21st Street and Lawrence Street in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood.
John Castillo, Kendrick’s dad, spoke about his son at the Oct. 4 unveiling. He said he thought the location, only a few blocks from Samaritan House Homeless Shelter, was the perfect place for a mural of him.
“That was really something Kendrick was passionate about, taking care of people and spreading his love,” said John Castillo. “I hope that when … people are struggling, I just hope that they look over and Kendrick’s looking down and providing comfort to them in some way.”
John spoke about who Kendrick was and what his aspirations for the future were before his death.
“He was a conservative, a patriot,” John said. “I ask people to be like Kendrick. Be strong like him.”
Kendrick was fatally shot and eight others were injured in the May 7, 2019 attack. One of the teens accused of the shooting has been convicted and the other is awaiting trial.
The event, organized by community member Donna Vander Baan, was attended by about 30 members of the public.
District Attorney George Brauchler, the prosecutor for both cases, spoke at the event.
“There are family members, some of whom are here, who thank God for Kendrick Castillo because they don’t have to have a son or a daughter on a mural somewhere,” Brauchler said.
STEM student Lucy Sarkissian, 15, spoke in front of the mural about her organization, Cupcakes 4 Change. Sarkissian started selling the cupcakes after the shooting and donates all proceeds to various organizations supporting victims of gun violence and other forms of violence, she said.
“Give a cupcake, it can make a world of difference,” she said. “I want to help other students and prevent other atrocities.”
The muralists, Adam Clark and Ksenia Poteraj, unveiled the painting at the beginning of the event. While the pair didn’t paint the other portraits on the wall, they curated them, they said.
The artists are part of Colorado Street Art, an organization with the mission of expanding public art in Colorado.
“It was suggested to us … and we jumped right on it,” Clark said. “We were really inspired by the story.”