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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Standoff ends quietly as suspect leaves home

Sara Leaming The Spokesman-Review
A standoff with police ended peacefully Friday night when a 19-year-old man left the northeast Spokane home he had invaded six hours earlier. John Anthony Castro came out of the home at 527 E. Gordon Ave. about 7p.m., after negotiating with members of the SWAT team for several hours. The incident began when officers spotted Castro driving a white Cadillac. Castro was wanted on warrants charging him with first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and delivery of a controlled substance, police spokesman Dick Cottam said. When officers attempted to stop Castro about 1 p.m., he led police on a high-speed chase reaching speeds up to 80mph into residential neighborhoods. “We tried to box him in and he hit one of our cars,” Lt. Dean Sprague said. Castro then pulled into an alley in the 500 block of East Gordon and bailed out of the car. Three passengers were questioned and released, Cottam said. Castro ran to the nearby home, telling two residents to leave, Cottam said. Believing that Castro may be armed, officers called for the SWAT team and negotiators. Castro was unarmed when he eventually gave up, but police said they wouldn’t know until they searched the house whether he had a gun inside. “He is no stranger to us,” Assistant Chief Jim Nicks said. “He hasn’t had any concern with using a weapon before.” Nicks said Castro was involved in drug robbery gone bad this summer. A 22-year-old man was stabbed July 8 in the parking lot of Yoke’s Pac n’ Save on North Foothills Drive. Police believe Castro was the attacker, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. On Friday, officers swarmed the neighborhood where Castro holed up, setting up a command post in the parking lot of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church at the corner of Empire and Standard. Fire trucks, police cars and two Winnebago motorhomes used in SWAT team negotiations filled the parking lot. Barricades were set up in a six-block radius of the home, and residents living nearby were asked to leave, or to stay away from doors and windows. About three blocks from the standoff, students at Longfellow Elementary School were locked in their classrooms for about 10 minutes. That lockdown ended when school officials learned that Castro was in a house and no longer on the street. “We didn’t want him coming into the school,” said Rob Alderson, lead resource officer for Spokane Public Schools. About 40 students who live near the house Castro invaded were held in the library until their parents could pick them up, Alderson said. Some parents were able to come immediately after school let out, at 3 p.m. “I saw it on the news,” said Freedom Hill, who came to get her kindergartner. “Usually I just wait in the car and he comes to me. But not today.” During the standoff Castro barricaded himself in the home’s small attic, occasionally popping his head out of a vent in the roof, yelling and refusing to come out. At one point he dared police to shoot him. Officers walking behind a bullet-proof shield took a phone to the home to make contact with the man. “His main concern is that he didn’t want to go to jail,” Nicks said. Avery Doutre, 19, stood along the barricades Friday night hoping that his friend Castro would come out without getting hurt. He said Castro is a member of the Deuce Ave Crips (Second Avenue Crips) in Browne’s Addition. “We sat and talked about what he would do in a situation like this many times,” Doutre said. “I don’t think he’s going to come out alive.” Finally, about 7 p.m., Castro left the attic and was taken into custody by the SWAT team. In addition to the warrant charges, Castro now faces three additional charges of felony eluding, hit and run, and first-degree burglary for “breaking into an innocent person’s home,” Nicks said. “It would have been nice if he had given up in the first place,” he said. “But he chose not to do that, and now he faces three more charges.”
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