WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A man found dead after a house fire and standoff with police died from a gunshot wound received during a shootout with officers, investigators in North Carolina said.
The North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Officer found that Edwin Castillo, 34, died from a gunshot wound, Winston-Salem police said in a release Thursday. Since there’s no evidence that the wound was self-inflicted, authorities said they believe he was shot during the shootout with police.
An officer called to a home Wednesday afternoon for a report of “unknown trouble” found Castillo unconscious in the doorway and called for a medic, police said. Before EMTs arrived, the officer removed a large knife from a holster on Castillo’s belt and saw an empty handgun holster.
When Castillo regained consciousness and stood up, police said, the officer noticed a handgun in his pocket and covered the pocket with his hand as Castillo tried to remove the gun. A struggle began, then escalated when a second officer arrived, police said. Castillo broke free and ran to another room and the officers sought cover outside.
An officer’s body camera footage shows Castillo pointing a handgun at the first officer and a witness later told investigators that a clicking sound could be heard as if Castillo was trying to fire, police said.
Three people ran from the house, including one who told police that Castillo hit him on the head with a hammer when officers retreated. The man’s serious injuries were treated and he was released from a hospital.
Officers tried to convince Castillo to disarm and come out, but more than an hour after officers arrived, police said Castillo fired at officers. Minutes later, officers saw smoke coming from the home.
Investigators later learned that Castillo had contacted an associate and said that he had started a fire and didn’t intend to surrender alive, police said.
After exchanging gunfire with police, Castillo fell out of view and the home was engulfed in flames, police said. After city firefighters controlled the blaze, SWAT team members escorted a doctor inside and determined that Castillo was dead, police said.
The four officers who fired their guns have been placed on routine administrative duty.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations is investigating the shooting and Castillo’s death. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will assist with the arson investigation.
A release from police indicates that Castillo was white, but does not include the races of the officers involved. Police did not immediately respond to an emailed request for that information.