6th Grade Survivor Of Colorado Shooting: 'I Was Going To Go Down Fighting'

by Valerie Williams

A 12-year-old boy who survived the STEM school shooting explains how he planned to “go down fighting” in heartbreaking interview

After the deaths of 20 first graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, it was easy to believe that things might change. Losing so many innocent lives should’ve been enough for our country and its lawmakers to mobilize around the cause of keeping our children and their teachers alive at school, but it’s been over six years, and sadly, nothing has changed except the rising school shooting death toll.

Maybe hearing an account directly from a child who survived yet another school shooting could move the hearts of some — and make clear the reality of what we’re forcing our kids to do as America makes clear over and over that we value our guns more than the lives of kids and educators.

Sixth grader Nate Holley was interviewed by CNN’s Brooke Baldwin after surviving our nation’s latest school shooting (the 15th so far in 2019, which isn’t even halfway over yet) at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado that ended in the death of one student and eight others suffering injuries. The 12-year-old boy, in his heartbreakingly child-like voice, told the story of how it all went down that day inside his classroom. If you’re not a sobbing wreck after listening to him and ready to stomp and scream for something better for our kids, you’re not paying attention.

Holley’s father Steve explains that he left the decision to appear on CNN up to his son, who decided at the last minute that he wanted to tell his own story. This freckle-faced baby (because I’m sorry, that’s absolutely what he still is), proceeded to tell the story of what it was like to survive a school shooting. “It was incredibly scary during it,” he said. “At least half the kids in my class broke into tears when it started happening.”

He tells a clearly shaken Baldwin that he has “sensitive ears” so when the shooter shot out the doors, he heard the gunshots. “I just kinda froze and then the siren came on and someone started cracking a joke and the teacher told them to shut up.” Holley says that’s when his teacher had the whole class hide behind her desk before moving them all to a closet.

“I had my hand on a metal baseball bat just in case,” he told Baldwin. “‘Cause I was gonna go down fighting if I was gonna go down.”

“I was gonna go down fighting if I was gonna go down.” 12 years old. Are you sick to your stomach yet?

Baldwin, stunned by what the little boy said, asks Holley’s father how he’s processing what his son just told them. “I don’t think you can process that. I think in Colorado we’ve been through so much recently.” He refers to a tweet he sent out about the number of times he’s had to pick up his kids from school because of a lockdown.

Three times. This family has been put through this three times and this is just one school district.

The Holleys had to wait five hours to be reunited with their kids after the shooting ended. Kendrick Castillo, a senior at the school only days from graduating, was killed when he lunged at the shooter. A little boy clutched a baseball bat in a closet and vowed to “go down fighting” while his slightly older peer did exactly that.

“Enough is enough,” says Steve. “We need to make a change and we need to do something or else we’re just going to continue failing our kids.”