A 21-year-old Little Rock man who police allege was recorded on security video shooting two brothers, killing one of them, saw his $1 million bail pared down to $400,000 on Wednesday by a Pulaski County Circuit judge who heard testimony that the deceased brother had initiated the February encounter by attacking the defendant's friend.
Charged with capital murder and attempted capital murder, Gerardo Castanon was arrested three days after Jose Bustos, 18, and Omar Bustos, 22, were found seriously wounded at a gas station and car wash near the intersection of Train Station Drive and Mabelvale Main Street in February. Jose Bustos was killed, but Omar Bustos survived six gunshot wounds.
Testifying at Castanon's bond hearing, detective Irving Jackman told Judge Leon Johnson that police collected video surveillance from the gas station that showed the shooting and helped detectives track down witnesses.
The fatal encounter began with Jose Bustos and a woman at the car wash. Castanon arrived in his pickup with a male passenger, and the two started washing the truck, Jackman told the judge, citing the video and an interview with the surviving brother.
Bustos and the passenger, Cristian Medina-Gallegos, 20, had some kind of ongoing feud, the detective testified, saying that Bustos called his older brother to join him at the car wash. The brothers, with Bustos in the lead, walked up to the truck, where Bustos and Medina-Gallegos argued before Bustos punched the older man in the face.
Jackman said Castanon responded by pulling an assault rifle from the truck and opening fire on the brothers, walking around the back of the pickup as he shot at them. The brothers fell to the ground, and Castanon and Medina-Gallegos got in the truck and left, with Castanon clipping Omar Bustos in the face with a tire while driving away, the detective said.
Bustos told authorities neither he nor his brother had a gun and that the plan had been to initiate a fist fight, the detective said. Bustos said his brother and Medina-Gallegos had been feuding since high school. Medina-Gallegos is not facing any charges.
Police found no evidence another gun had been used during the encounter, although Bustos had a 9mm magazine in his pocket and told police the brothers tried to act like they were carrying weapons when they approached Castanon and Medina-Gallegos.
When police caught up to Castanon, they found rifle ammunition and spent shell casings in his truck along with a rifle stock and some 9mm ammo, Jackman testified.
Arguing for a bail reduction, defense attorney Kyle Stoner introduced the testimony of character witnesses Ron King and Armando Ortego of Conway. Ortego, who works for Bank of America, told the judge that Castanon was a close friend of his younger brothers and had been a regular visitor at his home, calling Castanon "an easygoing kid" who is like a brother to him.
King, a longtime family friend, told the judge that Castanon worked for him in King's Recycle Bikes for Kids program, like Castanon's uncle and father had. King, referring to Castanon by his nickname Peanut, told the judge he knew the defendant to be "mild-mannered and easygoing."
The judge reduced Castanon's bail to $400,000 on the condition that he maintains his current residence, has no contact with the Bustos family and has no guns, drugs or alcohol. Senior deputy prosecutor Leigh Patterson told the judge authorities were concerned about further conflict between the families. Castanon remained jailed Thursday.
According to police, Medina-Gallego's father, Jesus Gonzalez, 40, reported someone fired shots into the family home at 4124 West Drive on March 21, about six weeks after the slaying. Gonzalez told investigators he had been seeing strangers on his street for some time and had urged his son to stay elsewhere, according to a police report.