Local News

Authorities: School Shooting Suspect Admits To Father's Slaying

Posted August 31, 2006
Updated December 31, 2006

— A man charged Wednesday with murdering his father and suspected of firing shots at his former high school said of the killing, "Somebody had to put him out of his misery."

Speaking to reporters as he was led from a sheriff's office to the Orange County Jail, Alvaro Rafael Castillo, 19, of Hillsborough, was asked why he went to Orange High School, where investigators believe he fired shots at the school.

Castillo responded: "Columbine. Remember Columbine."

Columbine High School, in Colorado, was the site of the April 20, 1999, massacre in which students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives.

WRAL has learned that during a traffic stop on April 20 of this year, Castillo threatened suicide, and deputies served him with mental commitment papers.

Orange County Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that Castillo confessed to killing Rafael Huezo Castillo after deputies took him into custody at the Orange High School around midday,

Deputies who forced their way into the family's home at the end of a private dirt-and-gravel road in northern Orange County, found the body of the father, who had been shot to death, the sheriff said.

It was not immediately known when the father had died.

As deputies walked Alvaro Castillo to jail, his hands cuffed in front of him, he was asked why he killed his father.

"Sacrifice. The world is cruel," he said. "We all have to sacrifice. Somebody had to put him out of his misery. He abused all of us."

When deputies approached Alvaro Castillo outside the school, he had two rifles, which he was firing, Pendergrass said. Deputies ordered him to put down the weapons and handcuffed him, the sheriff said.

They later found ammunition, weapons and homemade pipe bombs in his van.

He had a first appearance hearing scheduled for Thursday in Orange County District Court.

The owner of the property on which the Castillo home is located refused to allow reporters access to the private road on Wednesday evening. The home is located amid horse farms, trailer parks and modest homes.

Tanya Horne, standing across the street from the road to the Castillo home, said she had lived in the area most of her life and described it as "very quiet."

"We have fallen asleep with our door open," she said. "Nobody bothers you."

Horne said she did not know either the father or son.

At the school, two students suffered minor injuries after a school district spokeswoman said a former student drove into the school's parking lot at about 1 p.m. and fired a gun at the building. A girl was grazed on the shoulder, while a boy was struck by shattered glass, spokeswoman Anne D'Annunzio said.

"You'd like to think that people would never do something like this, but it did happen and we're just extremely grateful that we didn't have any serious injuries," D'Annunzio said.

Students said they heard eight gunshots.

"There was five shots, then a pause," said student P.J. Spear. "Then, three more."

No charges were immediately lodged against Castillo in connection with the school shooting.

"Twelve-gauge shotguns come out the window and start shooting," said student Bo Torlotta. "Somebody got shot right through the window. I'm trying to get inside, I'm trying to take cover."

Torlotta said he believes there was more than one shooter, but investigators have not been able to confirm whether that was the case.

"It was really scary," said student Lauren Wilverding. "I was scared for a lot of the people outside during it, because I didn't know where the gun was firing from at who in particular, maybe."

Students were temporarily barred from leaving both the high school and nearby C.W. Stanford Middle School for their safety, D'Annunzio said.

Terrified parents gathered at a local church shortly afterward to pick up their children, who were being transported by school buses. Confusion about who was where added to their frustration.

"We're just a bunch of freaked out parents because we don't know what's going on," said parent Ann Patten. "I just want to know where to get my child, that's what I want to know."

School officials said they intend to open school as usual on Thursday. Counselors will be on hand to talk with concerned students and staff.

"This is awful," said parent Lauren Leroux. "This is a small town, and it's scary to think this could happen in such a little town."

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