Nearly a week after an east-side jewelry store owner fatally shot three armed robbers, the family has come forward today with more details about the movie-like shootout that has the community heralding Ramon Castillo as a hero.
Two men walked into the store in the 4500 block of Canal around 2 p.m. Dec. 16 and presented a 10K gold ring bearing three small diamond chips, inquiring about its value, said Ramon Castillo’s only son, 28-year-old Juan Daniel Castillo.
About five minutes later, another man — the apparent ringleader of the robbery — entered the store, holding a pistol and shouted in Spanish it was a robbery and ordered one of the other men to take the Castillos in the back and tie them up, he said.
Ramon Castillo – shot four times in the ordeal — pleaded with the robbers, dropping an emergency alert device to the floor and telling the men to take whatever they wanted.
But the men ignored him.
Ramon Castillo, described as a gentle-mannered man and generous with people in need, believed the men were going to kill him and his wife, his son said.
"They were going to tie them up and shoot them in the head," Juan Daniel Castillo said of his parents. "One man tied up my mom with plastic tie straps. They threw her on her stomach on the floor. She hit her face on the floor. Then this guy went to tie up my dad. He got a tie strap on my dad’s left hand. When this guy took my dad’s right hand and pulled it behind him, my dad reached for his gun behind his back."
As the other two robbers were still in the front of the store, the avid hunter whipped his hand around the front of his body, pointed the 9 mm Beretta behind him toward the robber and pulled the trigger — all while keeping his eyes ahead, watching for the other two men in the showroom.
"He shot him in the eye. That guy died instantly," said his son.
The two robbers up front then opened fire with pistols, sending several rounds throughout the store.
Castillo, still keeping an eye open for the gunman, told his wife to stay down and returned fire, one of his shots striking a fire extinguisher, whose fog-like substance filled the store, minimizing visibility, his son said.
Castillo then backed up — eyes still forward — grabbed a .380 and fired a few rounds toward the front of the store as he was making his way to a sawed-off shotgun leaning against a wall.
Shotgun in his hands, Castillo then moved toward the front, trying to see through the fog.
He heard a click from one of the men’s pistols, followed by the sound of a bullet cartridge hitting the floor.
Realizing that at least one of the men was out of ammunition, Castillo took aim and shot both men in the face.
They too dropped and died.
Police identified two of the men — Nelson Wilfredo Tambora-Ramiro, 21, and Onilton Bolanos Castillano, 38. A third suspect has not been identified yet.
Castillo was struck five times — in the middle of his stomach, on the right shoulder in both legs. With the exception of grazing on a knee-cap, bullets missed bones.
Three days later, doctors said he would survive and fully recover, his son said.
The family has received more than 50 letters from customers and area residents, calling him a hero and sending donations — Castillo does not have insurance.
The ring the robbers used in the ruse is in Castillos’ safe.
The family has set up a website to help with medical bills at www.giveforward.com/ramoncastillo