Local News

Shooting Suspect Sent Video About Slaying, E-Mailed Columbine Principal

Posted September 1, 2006
Updated December 31, 2006

— The 19-year-old man charged with opening fire on Orange High School on Wednesday and murdering his father had mailed a video to the Chapel Hill News newspaper shortly before the incident at the school began, the News & Observer reported Friday.

The same man, Alvaro Rafael Castillo of Hillsborough, announced his intentions hours before the incident in a grisly e-mail to the principal of Columbine High School, the Colorado school that has become synonymous with school violence.

Castillo faces 10 charges in connection with the shooting at Orange High School and is accused of first-degree murder in connection with the slaying of his father earlier Wednesday. Before Castillo left his house in northern Orange County Wednesday, authorities said, he shot and killed his father, Rafael Huezo Castillo, a Durham school custodian.

The paper quoted Castillo as saying in the video, "Look at me. I'm not even crying. I just killed him, and I feel fine."

The tape was received by overnight mail Thursday at the offices of the biweekly Chapel Hill News' on Thursday. It showed it had been turned over to a post office 14 minutes before officials received the first call about shooting at the high school, the newspaper reported.

Two students suffered minor injuries in connection with the shooting. Both were back in class Thursday, officials said.

A little more than two hours before a man drove a minivan to the school, got out and began firing with two rifles, Castillo sent an e-mail to Frank DeAngelis, the principal of Columbine High School in Colorado.

In April 1999, two heavily armed teens walked through the halls of the suburban Denver school and killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives.

The e-mail read as follows: "Dear Principal. In a few hours you will probably hear about a school shooting in North Carolina. I am responsible for it. I remember Columbine. It is time the world remembered it. I am sorry. Goodbye."

Colorado authorities notified Orange County investigators of the e-mail after the shooting had already taken place outside Orange High.

Castillo readily admits an obsession with the Columbine school shooting, the deadliest incidence of school violence in U.S. history.

"I was just attracted to it ever since I was 10," he said as he was led into court Thursday morning.

Among the items seized by investigators at Castillo's home was a notebook entitled "Mass Murders and School Shootings of the 20th and 21st Centuries."

"There were diaries and notebooks and stuff of that nature all throughout the house," Orange County Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass said, noting Castillo even made a pilgrammage last year to Columbine High and the houses of the two teen gunmen.

Castillo wore a T-shirt with the phrase "Remember Columbine" when he was arrested.

Investigators also seized two homemade pipe bombs from the minivan and another four from Castillo's house. They also said the teen had purchased a rifle and a shotgun in the last three months.

The letter to the paper, dated Aug. 29, refers repeatedly to school shootings and ends with the words, "I will die. I have wanted to die for years. I'm sorry."

It also asks the newspaper to make public the videotape, in which Castillo appears.

"I send a videotape because I want the world to look into the mind of a depressed and traumatized individual," the letter said. "I sent you the tape because I do not want them locked away just (like) the basement tapes that (Columbine killers) Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold made. The police would not release them. This will not happen again. I want the world to see myself. I know I am insane."

On the video, Castillo said, "Don't judge me for what I did. Based on what I did, you might think I'm a monster, a sick freak. ... But I tried to do good things. I tried. ... I'm sorry for the pain I'm going to cause, but I'm not right in the head. I just want to die. I might get jailed. I might get tortured. I don't know what's going to happen."

He counted his father's death among the "good things" he tried to accomplish.

The newspaper said it was reviewing the videotape and verifying that the letter was written by Castillo.

Alvaro Castillo graduated from Orange High in 2005, and school officials said he was a good student. He also was a private in the North Carolina Army National Guard but was deemed medically unfit for service before he completed basic training, according to officials with the National Guard.

"I remember when they moved here, he was a quiet kid and well-mannered," neighbor Tim Fluet said.

The family moved to North Carolina from Spain four years ago, and Castillo's mother and sister wept during his court appearance Thursday morning.

Prosecutors listed the following charges related to the school shooting: three counts of possessing weapons of mass destruction, two counts each of having a gun on educational property, injury to personal property and assault with intent to kill and inflict serious injury and one count of discharging a weapon into occupied property.

"I think, this morning, it's beginning to sink in what's happened," Fluet said.
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