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Witness: Kendrick Castillo didn't hesitate when he realized there was a shooter

Two people who were in the room during the STEM School shooting recounted what they saw in court during the fifth day of the trial against the alleged shooter.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — The class had been watching "The Princess Bride" when one of the students blocked the door and took out a gun. He told his fellow students "don't [expletive] move," but Kendrick Castillo didn't listen.

"As soon as he finished saying his statement, Kendrick immediately got up and charged at him," said Ethan Kutulas, who was a senior at STEM School Highlands Ranch the day of the May 7, 2019 school shooting. 

“He saw the gun and he knew what to do," Kutulas later said.

Castillo was fatally shot during the ensuing scuffle, during which two other students helped subdue the gunman and pry the weapon out of his hands. 

Every other person in the classroom survived. 

Kutulas was the first witness called to the stand by the prosecution Thursday during the fifth day of testimony in the trial against one of the two accused shooters, Devon Erickson. 

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Two years after the shooting, Kutulas said he still struggles with the memories from that day. 

“The things I remember the most are the words he said, the movie, me going to the ground, getting out," he said. 

Kutulas said he had two classes with Erickson, and hours before the shooting had sent him a Snapchat message telling him to get back to class and that a counselor had been looking for him. 

He said there were no warnings and no signs that anything was amiss before he saw the gun in Erickson's hand. Prosecutors have previously said he brought it to school in the guitar case that he normally brought to school. 

Kutulas said he thought he was watching a senior prank unfold until he heard gunshots. That's when he said he got on the ground. 

“He looked like he didn’t know how to use a gun," Kutulas said. 

RELATED: Accused STEM school shooter charged after jailhouse fight

Later, Kutulas said he bolted from the classroom and yelled "school shooter" as he ran through the middle school cafeteria and outside, where he noticed other classmates had been following him. 

He was one of multiple witnesses called to the stand Thursday who were inside classroom 107 when Erickson and Alec McKinney are believed to have opened fire on an English literature class that was supposed to be analyzing "The Princess Bride" during one of the last days of the school year. 

Raquel Sugrue, a special education teacher at STEM School Highlands Ranch, testified that she had been in the room watching the movie when she thought she heard a fight. 

Then, she said she heard gunfire. 

"I thought 'this is actually happening,'" she said. "I went from 'this is a fight' to 'this is gunfire' to 'this isn't real' to 'Gerry got shot.' That was my process." 

"In some sick way, I was kind of hoping that it was a really bad senior prank." 

She said when she saw the blood gushing from her student Gerardo "Gerry" Montoya-Ojeda's head, she realized it wasn't.

Sugrue said she went to the floor when the shooting occurred, and got on top of another teacher in the room. She said she saw the fight on one end of the room, and McKinney firing shots on the other. 

Credit: Family friend
Kendrick Castillo

"I had nothing on me, we were just laying on the floor with no desks protecting us, nothing," Sugrue said. 

When she realized one of her students had been shot, she said he became her sole focus, and recounted running out of the classroom and into the office, where they assessed everyone's injuries. 

"I think I'm probably still in shock," she said. 

Montoya-Ojeda testified about his injuries on Thursday afternoon. He said he also believed he was witnessing a prank until he realized the back of his head was bleeding. He had three gunshot wounds, and recounted rushing out of the classroom with his teachers and hiding in the middle office until police arrived. 

Erickson and McKinney were arrested the day of the shooting. McKinney has pleaded guilty to 17 counts -- including first-degree murder -- and could be released after 40 years, since he was a minor at the time of the crime. 

Erickson is charged with 46 counts. His trial is slated to last for one month.

In addition to the witnesses who were inside the classroom, prosecutors also called a doctor to the stand who helped treat a shooting victim at the hospital, and two members of law enforcement who helped collect evidence in the case. 

Prosecutors also questioned the doctor who conducted Castillo's autopsy. She said he had been shot in the chest, but couldn't definitively say how close the shooter was or the trajectory of the bullet. 

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