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/A 12-year-old grabbed a bat and was gonna go down fighting in Colorado school shooting
A 12-year-old grabbed a bat and was gonna go down fighting in Colorado school shooting

A 12-year-old grabbed a bat and was gonna go down fighting in Colorado school shooting


When tragedy strikes, “situational heroes” can emerge unexpectedly from a crowd during moments of crisis.

USA TODAY

When the gunfire began, sixth grader Nate Holley said he immediately froze.
Other students in his classroom burst into tears, he said on CNN.
A siren came on and his teacher moved the students behind her desk. Then the shots got closer, and they were in a closet.
“I had my hand on a metal baseball bat, just in case,” Nate told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin. “‘Cuz I was gonna go down fighting if I was gonna go down.”
Baldwin, nearly speechless by the remark, held her hands up and could only repeat what she had just heard.
“Nate, and again, how old are you?” she then asked.
“I’m 12 and a – I’m 12,” the middle schooler said.

The exchange after the shooting Tuesday at STEM School Highlands Ranch, which left one student dead and eight others wounded, stunned many on social media who say it highlights the shocking reality young children must face with the threat of active shooters in schools today.
‘Astounding’: 11 days. 3 mass shootings. 3 heroes. What makes some risk their lives for others?
Nate was not alone in wanting to fight as a number of heroes have emerged in recent weeks after active shooter situations.
Kendrick Castillo, 18, died as he lunged toward a gunman at Nate’s school. His classmates say his sacrifice allowed them to hide or flee and saved many lives.
His father John Castillo told media outlets that when he and Kendrick talked about what he would do if there were an active shooter, Kendrick said he would act.
“You don’t have to be the hero,” Castillo told NBC he would advise his son. But Kendrick would reply, “You raised me this way. You raised me to be a good person. That’s what I’m doing.”
Other students, including Brendan Bialy, an aspiring Marine, helped tackle the shooter to the ground in Colorado.
In North Carolina, Riley Howell, 21, lost his life when he charged a gunman who burst last week into a University of North Carolina-Charlotte lecture room carrying a pistol.
And Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, died as she stood in front of the rabbi at Chabad of Poway, a synagogue near San Diego, late last month to prevent others from being killed.
“You know, our life is all we’ve got,” Frank Farley, a psychology professor at Temple University who has studied heroism, told USA TODAY earlier this week. “To put it on the line or take risks where you can lose your life for others is an astounding and profound human behavior.”
Contributing: Joey Garrison and Susan Miller, USA TODAY. Follow Ryan W. Miller on Twitter: @RyanW_Miller

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