An attempt to exploit a Colorado vigil for victims of the STEM Highlands Ranch school shooting to push gun control quickly backfired Wednesday when students and parents walked out in protest.
According to Denver’s KUSA, the vigil was organized by “some students that are part of a group called Team ENOUGH.” Ironically, that group is described as “a youth program that is part of the Brady Campaign, a national organization that advocates for stricter gun control laws and gun violence prevention efforts.” But when Congressman Jason Crow and Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat running for president, according to USA Today, “urged support for gun control legislation,” students in the audience shouted complaints about turning the vigil into a “political stunt.”
One student declared, “We are people, not a statement.”
The gun prohibition lobby has shown a knack for moving fast to exploit tragedies such as the STEM school shooting, but those Colorado students and adults had something else on their minds. They came to honor the heroism of Kendrick Castillo, the 18-year-old student who literally sacrificed his life by charging at one of the armed suspects and being fatally wounded. His action, according to published reports, gave other students time to dive for cover or escape. Castillo would have graduated this week.
One report revealed that Castillo didn’t hesitate as soon as he saw the gun. He and two other students were immediately on the suspect, slamming him hard against a wall, according to published reports.
Fury over the attempt to capitalize on the tragedy erupted in reader reaction to the Denver Post’s coverage of the walkout. One reader, signing in as “hroszell,” noted, “The vigil was supposed to be about the mourning of a fellow student and the successful recovery of all other victims, but ended up being used to push for political motives. I would also point out that very few of the students protesting were not pushing for tighter gun control laws, but for proper mental health programs to be put in place.”
Another reader, Silvio Morello, wrote, “Good for you guys for standing up to the Deranged Left for trying to push their agenda of trying to take away our guns. The Left always wants to bring politics into everything, especially when shootings like this happen. Why can’t the Democrats let people mourn in peace?”
A third reader signing in as “ClearFocus,” took a swipe at Sen. Bennet, “Michael Bennet used the opportunity for a campaign speech? What a sleaze.”
Castillo was described by USA Today as an “avid hunter and fisherman.”
Meanwhile, the teen suspects made their first court appearances Wednesday, CNN reported. They are Devon Erickson, 18 and 16-year-old Alec McKinney.
According to the CNN report, “Authorities initially referred to the 16-year-old suspect as female. But the suspect’s lawyer said in court that McKinney goes by the first name Alec, and uses the pronoun ‘he,’ Colorado Judicial Department spokesman Rob McCallum said.”
An earlier report from Denver’s KMGH quoted “multiple sources close to the investigation” who said the younger suspect “is a transgender male who was in the midst of transitioning from female to male.”
Many students who “stormed” out of the vigil Wednesday night eventually returned, KUSA reported, and they brought the focus back to the shooting victims.
But the walkout may signal to the gun prohibition lobby that exploiting tragedy to further a political agenda has finally lost its appeal.