Cherryvale mourns loss of high school senior

CHERRYVALE — Sadness befell the Cherryvale community and Cheryvale Middle-High School where news was announced early this morning (Friday) of the death of a high school senior due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.


Labette County Sheriff Robert Sims confirmed the death of a 17-year-old male at his home at 19037 Anderson Road in rural Cherryvale shortly after 7 a.m., this morning.


The teenager was later identified by sources as Caleb Castilleja, a senior at Cherryvale High School. No further details were announced by Sims, other than to say no foul play was suspected.


Scott Lambdin, assistant middle-high school principal, said counselors were summoned to the school when news was announced of Castilleja’s passing.  A number of high school seniors left school to grieve over the loss of their classmate, who had recently signed up to join the Kansas National Guard.  Castilleja also was a recent graduate of the Cherryvale Police Department’s Explorer program.


The news also brought a pall of silence throughout the school hallways on Friday.  The normal chatter was largely non-existent on Friday morning and in the afternoon, and plans for next week’s homecoming activities and final semester exams were secondary as students focused their thoughts and attention on the loss of one of their peers.


News of the death of the rural Cherryvale teenager stunned the local community. His mother, Nancy Castilleja, is an owner of a hair salon in downtown Cheryvale while his father, Rene Castilleja, is employed full-time through the Kansas National Guard.


Funeral information will be announced when it becomes available.

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