“He was just a nice, caring person who worked at the school who should not be dead,” one of the school’s parents said to TIME.
As the country continues to mourn the lost life of 34-year-old father Philando Castile, employees at the magnet school where he worked are speaking out.
TIME reports that Castile worked as a cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul, where his coworkers said he was a kind and gentle spirit.
“Kids loved him,” an unidentified coworker said in a statement issued by the school district. “He was quiet, respectful and kind. I knew him as warm and funny.”
A former employee told TIME that Castile made it a point to memorize the names—and food allergies—of the school’s 500 students, something that the school’s parents recognized and appreciated.
“He was a fixture,” parent Andrew Karre said to TIME. “I was always happy to see him around school. The cafeteria was a pretty happy place. He was part of the community and an important one…He was just a nice, caring person who worked at the school who should not be dead.”
Castile was driving with his fiancée and 4-year-old daughter when they were pulled over for a broken taillight. When the officer approached their vehicle, Castile informed him that he was carrying a licensed firearm but was simply reaching for his wallet. It was then that the officer opened fire, fatally striking Castile. His fiancée, Diamond Reynolds, captured the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live.
The two officers involved have been placed on administrative duty, but the community is demanding justice.
“This was a real guy,” Joan Edman, one of Castile’s former coworkers, told TIME. “He made a real contribution. Yes, Black lives matter. But this man mattered.”