In May, two gunmen entered STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado and opened fire, killing one and injuring eight. Partly why the carnage at the charter school wasn't worse: Students helped stop the shooting. One of those teen heroes was Brendan Bialy, who tackled and disarmed one of the gunmen, and now he's added a new accomplishment: He's officially a US Marine. The Denver Post reports the 18-year-old graduated Sept. 20 from Marine Corps boot camp, and in a video statement, Bialy says his drive to become a Marine was "nothing but reinforced after the shooting." He continues: "What I saw that day was complete and total malevolence, bad overcome by good," though he adds that " the world lost an amazing person" during the shooting.
That person was 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo, who helped Bialy and fellow student Josh Jones rush one of the gunmen and was killed during the effort. One of Bialy's boot camp drill instructors tells Stars and Stripes that the same skills Bialy demonstrated during the shooting, including "quick reaction" and a "willingness to fight," are the traits that Bialy exhibited during his training. "I don't think recruit training changed [him]," says Staff Sgt. Marcus Chestnut. "He is who he was when he first got here. I think we just gave him some additional attributes that made him a stronger man and a basically trained Marine." (A deeper dive into the Highlands Ranch shooting, and why it was "different, yet horribly familiar.")