Police release more details on shooting
Police on Tuesday released more information about an officer-involved shooting at the Burton Apartments on Mathison Street that still has a man hospitalized in critical condition with a head wound.
The report said officers found a “Smith & Wesson M&P .22-caliber” rifle lying beside the man, 21-year-old Cayetano Castro-Merino. The weapon had been reported stolen in Orange County.
Officers also found a loaded .38-caliber Rossi revolver, “several bags of what appears to be cocaine” and a “large number of Tecate beer cans” inside the apartment where the confrontation took place.
Authorities issued the report six days after the incident, in line with a policy Police Chief Jose Lopez announced in June that calls for earlier disclosures about any officer-involved shootings or in-custody deaths involving the Durham Police Department.
Lopez gave the report to City Manager Tom Bonfield, who in turned relayed it to the City Council via email, a channel that’s effectively public because of standing public-records requests from The Herald-Sun and other media outlets.
The report added to the details Lopez released about the July 16 incident in a news conference last week. But it cautioned that complete findings await the outcome of probes by the Police Department’s internal-affairs and homicide units, and by the State Bureau of Investigation.
The incident began with a woman’s call to 911 about 2:17 a.m. She reported that a Hispanic man in a white t-shirt had shot at her, a female friend and an infant as they walked from Sowell Street to Mathison Street.
The women later told investigators they believed the man had fired one shot at them, and then four more as they fled. The man was on the second floor of the apartment building, which has a balcony.
The neighborhood is near the McDougald Terrace public housing complex.
Four police officers responded to the call. As they moved in, Cpl. L.A. Kirkman, who was working a robbery case on nearby East Pettigrew Street, told District 4 officers she’d heard several shots about 2:16 a.m.
They came in a sequence of one shot, followed by “four or five” more, and in Kirkman’s opinion were “very loud.”
One of the responding officers, J.A. Daniels, smelled “recently fired ammunition” as he arrived at the apartment building. He and officers Brian Johnson and A.B. Beck first looked at the second-floor breezeway, and then, not seeing anyone, fanned out. Beck and Daniels moved to check the east side of the building, while Johnson remained on the west side.
The group was still split when the shooting occurred. Beck reported hearing Johnson say “drop the gun,” in English. He ran back to the west side, and saw Johnson fire one shot toward the second floor.
Johnson told Daniels a man on the second floor had raised a gun at him and didn’t drop it. Investigators later found that Johnson had taken cover behind a parked car and was 18 to 20 yards away from the man when he fired.
The officers saw a second man standing in an apartment doorway where the man had been shot. Johnson yelled commands at him in English and Spanish. The second man didn’t comply, and was taken into custody. Police identified him as Oliverio Calvario-Villalba, 38.
Calvario-Villalba later told investigators he and Castro-Merino had been drinking beer, at least until Calvario-Villalba went to bed. He said he was later awakened by “the sound of a shot” and saw Castro-Merino lying on the floor.
Police Department spokeswoman Kammie Michael on Tuesday said Calvario-Villalba has not been charged in connection with the case.
The Smith & Wesson rifle is one of the many clones in civilian use of the AR-15 design that became the basis for the U.S. military’s M16 and M4 rifles and carbines.
The AR-15 and its military variants fire a .223-caliber round used by NATO-alliance forces. Smith & Wesson makes .223- and .22-caliber versions, the lower-powered, lower-cost .22-caliber being one enthusiasts like for recreational shooting because its ammunition is inexpensive.
Police said the weapon they recovered had a “rifle scope” and 50-round magazine. A magazine of that size wouldn’t be standard equipment; Smith & Wesson sells its M&P .22s with 10- and 25-round magazines.