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DPS botched ‘hostage’ situation: family member

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STEPHANIE Castro Camacho on Thursday expressed disappointment with how the Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation handled the “hostage” situation that resulted in the death of the suspect, her brother, and his alleged hostage.

Stephanie Castro Camacho, left, the sister of Gordon Aldan Camacho, is seen outside their mother’s house in San Antonio where her brother and his alleged hostage died in a shootout with law enforcers on Thursday morning.  Photo by Bryan Manabat

DPS said Camacho’s brother, Gordon Aldan Castro, 31, “fired multiple rounds directly towards officers” when they entered his house in San Antonio.

Camacho said the house belonged to their mother.

She added that she was supposed to enter the house and talk with her brother. “But the FBI and DPS did not allow me for safety reasons,” Camacho said.

“I know my brother. I know that he was not going to harm me. If only they gave me that chance he would still be here with us,” Camacho added.

“The last time I spoke with my brother was 11:55 p.m., Wednesday,” she added.

Camacho said the DPS-FBI task force told her to call her brother before a SWAT team entered the house.

“So I did call, but no one answered so they told me to keep trying,” Camacho said. “When finally someone answered, it was Keisha [King],” referring to the woman who, police said, was being held hostage by Castro.

“I asked if Keisha and [he] were okay, and Keisha said she’s okay.”

Camacho said she was never told why a SWAT team wanted to enter the house at that time.

“They are not telling the whole story,” she said referring to the task force.

Asked whether she believed that King was being held against her will, Camacho said, “No, I don’t think so, because we were talking to her and Keisha told the FBI that she was not harmed. We were all communicating, my phone was on speaker, the FBI and DPS could hear all the conversation and Keisha said she was not harmed.”

Variety learned that a task force specialist had assessed Keisha King’s behavior to be calm and collected. “She took part in the request exchanges,” Camacho said.

Asked about her brother’s mental state, Camacho said, “It’s his sickness, but I’m not going say he was mental, but everybody thinks he had slipped. There were times — like everybody else, just like me, when I am not good, but on certain days I’m okay. If they only gave me a chance to come to the house and talk to him, my brother would still be alive today.”

Asked about her brother’s firing a gun at the police, Camacho said: “His mind was not there. When he saw that he was surrounded, of course…he was scared… I heard the sound [of gunfire] but I can’t say that he was shooting at the police.”

DPS said, “Sometime between 2:30 and 3 a.m. Thursday, local and federal law enforcement agencies conducted a breach into the suspect’s residence. Upon making contact with the suspect, the suspect fired multiple rounds directly towards officers. Officers returned fire and managed to neutralize the threat.”

The suspect and the woman were both killed, DPS said.

Castro was served an arrest warrant at 12:50 p.m. in Afetna on Tuesday.

DPS stated that Castro, in an attempt to flee the police, discharged a couple of rounds in the air.

At 3:50 p.m. on Tuesday, DPS said, the “suspect took [a woman,] believed to be his girlfriend, hostage as he made his way and crossed the main road over to a family residence [in] San Antonio.”

Deepest condolences

In an interview on Thursday, during a proclamation signing yesterday morning, Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased.

“I have not gotten the full briefing, because I know that it is still under investigation, but I just want to extend my condolences to the families [of the deceased]. Once we get a briefing, we will have more information for the community.”

He noted that there were several spectators during the hostage situation, which not only made it a little more difficult for DPS to do its job, but also placed the spectators at risk.

He encourages members of the community to “be aware, be alert, but when things like this occur, stay away and seek safety.”

In a statement, the governor said:

“I, along with Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and our families, extend our deepest condolences to the families affected by this tragedy that occurred in San Antonio.

“Because the situation is currently under investigation, we kindly ask that as a community we continue to respect the individuals and families affected.

“We thank the Department of Public Safety and our hardworking local and federal law enforcement officers for their sacrifice and dedication to protecting our community to the best of their ability.

“Let us also use this time to reflect on mental health and how we can help each other and loved ones cope with these illnesses without passing judgement.

“Our office will continue to work with the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation and the Community Guidance Center on leveraging existing resources to assist individuals and families going through difficult times.

“We will always be here with you.”

Independent investigation

In a separate statement, Attorney General Edward Manibusan said he has assigned the Attorney General Investigative Division and Chief Prosecutor John Bradley to “conduct an independent review of the circumstances surrounding the use of deadly force during a hostage situation that concluded in the early morning hours of March 11, 2020.”

According to the AG, DPS notified the public that officers used deadly force and reported the death of two individuals, including the adult male suspect and the adult female hostage he had been holding for over 24 hours.

“I have conferred with the Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Guerrero and he has given his full support for an independent investigation,” Manibusan said. “The review is a standard protocol for the use of deadly force by law enforcement.”

The AG said a review serves several purposes, including providing law enforcement and the public with an independent and reliable evaluation of the use of deadly force and identification of any collateral issues for further consideration by the government.

“I seek the cooperation of law enforcement partners including the FBI and DPS as we undertake this important and sensitive inquiry,” the AG added.

Chief Prosecutor Bradley, he said, has extensive experience in conducting such reviews, and has worked on similar cases in Texas.

“I wish to extend my condolences to the family of the deceased and ask for the community’s patience as our office conducts the independent review,” the AG said.

With K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

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