Highlands Ranch, Colorado (CNN)When a gunman walked into his British Literature class at STEM School Highlands Ranch last week, interrupting the movie “The Princess Bride,” Joshua Jones says his instincts kicked in.
Jones and two other students rushed at the shooter and disarmed him.
The 18-year-old was forced to make a decision he hopes no one else will ever have to make, he told reporters on Tuesday. He was shot in his left calf and thigh during the attack.
In the moment, he said, he didn’t consciously decide to run toward danger.
“Adrenaline and tunnel vision are crazy things,” Jones said, with his parents sitting by his side. “You get what you’re doing done, and then later you realize what’s happened.”
And he didn’t think of himself as a hero, he said.
“You never expect to make that choice at any point in your life.”
He tackled the gunman, then called his mom
Jones remembered the gunman entering the classroom, drawing his weapon and yelling “Nobody move!”
Kendrick Castillo was the first to move towards the shooter, then Brendan Bialy and then him, Jones said.
Jones said it took him a split second to “make sure it was actually real and actually happening.”
He pulled the gunman to the ground, he recalled; Bialy got the gun out of the gunman’s hand, and Castillo shoved the gunman against the wall, Jones recalled. Castillo was killed in the shooting.
Jones declined to identify the person they tackled by name.
While he was still holding the gunman down — before police took the shooter into custody — Jones said he called his mother. “She always has been a problem solver for me,” he said.
Lorie Jones, who also spoke to reporters on Tuesday, said her son sounded calm when he called her at work that day.
He told her he had been involved in a school shooting, and had been shot several times in the leg. But he was okay, he said.
“Josh, are you bleeding?” she remembered asking him.
“Just a little,” he said.
She said her son was “really trying to protect me.”
Jones’ father, David, said he was proud of him of because had “done a good thing,” but he was also scared for his son.
“A couple inches either direction, it would’ve been a much different result,” he said.
Joshua Jones said he doesn’t remember a lot about that day. “It’s just a blur, really,” he said.
He said he’s glad he and his classmates tackled the gunman together. It would have been “much worse” for everyone else in the room if they didn’t work together.
Jones said he had been taught to escape from a shooter and wait for police, “but in that moment, I just did what was best for me.”
Jones hobbled on crutches to talk to reporters. He was recovering well after a brief hospital stay.
“I’m healing fast. I’m a young kid,” Jones said. But emotionally, he said, “I’m still in a bit of a funk.”
The support from the community and his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has helped him heal.
“I think we’ve had dinner for two weeks straight because of our church helping us,” he said.
Looking past graduation
A celebration of life service to remember Castillo is scheduled for Wednesday. The two suspects — 18-year-old student Devon Erickson and 16-year-old Alec McKinney — are expected to hear the charges against them.
They are students at the school and face murder and attempted murder charges, according to George Brauchler, the local district attorney.
Jones said Castillo “was a wonderful person.”
“He was going off to college. He was doing great things and it’s truly a shame that he had to leave us so early,” Jones said.
Jones said he expects graduation on May 20 to be somber because “we’re missing one of the kids who’s been with us since the very beginning.”
“Kendrick has been there for as long as I can remember,” he said. “But we’re still all going to be glad to graduate and go off and continue with our life.”
Jones will head on a Mormon mission next year and then he’ll train to be an EMT, inspired by the EMTs who were “just so incredibly helpful and kind.”
“I’m just glad that I was able to come home,” Jones said.