The student who disarmed a gunman during a Colorado high school shooting is now a US Marine


VIDEO: Pfc. Brendan Bialy on his decision to join the Marines

One of the high school students who helped take down and disarm a gunman during a school shooting earlier this year graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Training on Sept. 20.

Months before Brendan Bialy ever stepped foot on the yellow footprints, his willingness to fight in the face of overwhelming odds were apparent on May 7, 2019, when another student walked into his 12th grade English class at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado and pull out a gun.

Bialy, along with other students in the class, charged at the shooter and tackled him to the ground.

"The gunman was there, then he was against the wall, and he didn't know what the hell hit him," Bialy told the Denver Post.

Eight students were injured in the shooting, and Bialy's friend, Kendrick Castillo, 18, was killed.

"What I saw that day was complete and total malevolence, bad overcome by good," the 18-year-old Bialy said in a video released by Marine Corps public affairs on Oct. 1. "I lost an amazing person. The world lost an amazing person, Kendrick Castillo. However, I saw that benevolence won— legitimately and completely won in that situation."

The two suspected shooters — ages 18 and 16 — were arrested after the attack, and a judge determined there was enough evidence to try the oldest of the suspects on more than 40 charges. The younger shooter expected to face preliminary hearings on the same charges next month, Stars and Stripes reported.

Bialy's courage and his instinct to run toward danger distinguished him to his drill instructors during the months he spent at Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot San Diego in California, where he earned a meritorious promotion to private first class and graduated as his platoon's honor man.

"I don't think recruit training changed Bialy," Staff Sgt. Marcus Chestnut, one of his drill instructors in Golf Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, said in the Marine Corps' video. "He is who he was when he first got here. I think we just gave him some additional attributes that made him a stronger man and a basically trained Marine."

"His past kind of reflected on some things we had to do here: quick reaction, a willingness to fight. His character really showed," Chestnut added.

Pfc. Brandon Bialy graduated on Sept. 20 from Marine Corps recruit training as his platoon's honor man, just months after help stop a school shooting. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Grace J. Kindred)

After graduating boot camp, Bialy will head to the Marine Corps School of Infantry for combat training, then to his MOS school for training as an Electro-Optical Ordnance Repairer tasked with working on optics for ground ordnance and missile systems.

"It's a battle as a parent," Bialy's father, Brad, said in the Marine Corps video. "You love your child more than anything in this world, but at the same time you understand that what he has, you have to share. It's not really our choice anymore, he's one of those people — and the people that are all here, all these recruits, all these Marines — they have to share what they have."

Bialy was a poolee at the time of the shooting, having entered the Delayed Entry Program in July 2018, but in the video interview he said that his "thoughts on becoming a Marine were nothing but reinforced after the shooting."

"Everybody hopes what they're going to do in that situation is what I did — I was one of those people, and I acted the way I hoped I'd act," Bialy added. "I knew that going to the Marines would build that foundation, as it has now."

A UH-60 Black Hawk departs from The Rock while conducting Medevac 101 training with members of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, Feb. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys)

A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.

At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.

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An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps

"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.

At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.

Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.

"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."

She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."

It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.

The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.

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The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.

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