Nate Holley is a sixth-grader at the STEM School Highlands Ranch, a K-12 public charter school located in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. On Tuesday, two suspects opened fire at the school, killing one and wounding eight others — the third mass shooting in 11 days.
Nate, 12, talked to CNN on Wednesday. Standing next to his father, he shared his harrowing experience of the shooting: the alarm going off, the teacher ushering students first behind her desk, and then into a closet as the suspect drew nearer.
“It was incredibly scary during it and at least half the kids in my class broke into tears when it started happening,” Nate explained. “It was incredibly scary, and our teacher had us hide in the closet.”
Nate shared that he heard shots fired at the school doors, then the siren went off.
“I was hiding in the corner, and they were right outside the door,” Nate continued. “I had my hand on a metal baseball bat just in case, ’cause I was going to go down fighting, if I was going to go down.”
Nate embodied the tenets of “run, hide, fight,” which has become somewhat of an active shooter shorthand — that was even tweeted out by University of North Carolina at Charlotte last week when a suspect fired shots there that killed two and left four others wounded.
CNN points out that the mantra is similar to the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events strategy of “avoid, deny, defend.”
At STEM School Highlands Ranch, the student killed, 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo, was hailed a hero. He and several other students reportedly rushed one of the alleged shooters, giving kids in his class time to take cover or run.
“Kendrick lunged at him and tried to subdue him,” a student Nui Giasolli told CNN. “As soon as he said, ‘Don’t you move,’ Kendrick lunged, giving us all enough time to hide under our desks, and the shooter ended up shooting Kendrick.”
Two suspects were taken into custody and both appeared in court on Wednesday. One suspect is 18-year-old Devon Erickson, the other is 16-year-old Maya McKinney, according to the Associated Press, who uses male pronouns and goes by Alec.
Charges are expected to be filed against Erickson on Friday. It was not yet clear whether McKinney would be tried as an adult, the AP reported.