And 28-year-old Aron Castillo had fears that he would also end up in the morgue after he too was allegedly beaten by three men in San Pedro on Sunday. Castillo told us that he was buying groceries for his side business, which caters cheese platters for customers, when he was rear ended by another golf cart.
He explained that at first, the conversation he had with the men in the other golf cart was cordial, until they began throwing homophobic slurs at him. He decided to leave the matter in the police's hands, and that's when he claims the men ambushed and attacked him.
Castillo sustained injuries to his head, neck, and back, and is now in fear for his life, since his attackers don't live far away from him. He says the entire ordeal has left him not only physically scarred, but mentally shaken as well.
But Castillo isn't letting that stop him from telling his story. He spoke to us via Zoom today.
Aron Castillo, Victim of Attack
"So we started bickering back and forth to where they insulted me and called me a "batty bwai." There and then I could see that they were drinking, they had on the Argentina jerseys and I said this conversation would go nowhere so I was advised to call the police but unfortunately the call was not going through. So I decided to now go to the police station and I had made that comment to them and say it's best I make that formal report."
"So then I proceeded to journey myself home when I encountered these three males individuals now in the entrance of San Pedrito. But the look they gave me when they saw me, I immediately felt intimidated and I immediately knew they wanted to hurt me. I did not imagine they were on a manhunt for me because that's what I believe, I'm here doing all the processing of this piece by piece to put together because it was a very traumatic event for me."
"So then I proceeded to gas my golf cart all out because I know they want to hurt me. This time they started to chase me with their carry on golf cart which is much faster than my club car. So they then now overtake me, block the golf cart so that I was not able to pass and jump off their cart. In that moment I think to myself, what am I going to do? So I floored my golf cart to try and drive off but I was dragged off my cart and that's when I started to get attacked. I remember some stuff, I remember seeing people around but I can't expect anybody to jump for me, it was a very intense situation, one I have never been in, I have never experienced, I was confused, but something told me, you have to fight because these guys weren't in their right mind and this could have been worse if I didn't try to defend myself, I could have been in a coma, I could have been badly hurt if I didn't try to defend myself, all I was trying to do was block so that they would not hurt me much in my face."
"But like that wasn't sufficient for them, they already dragged up me, beat up me, and they still proceeded to follow me all the way to my house, because I was only like five minutes from my house."
"When I got home, I only managed to run inside and I told my dad to please help me because three guys are trying to beat me up. When me and my dad walked outside because all my stuff is still on my cart, the three of them are already outside, two of them pull my dad aside to talk while one of them attacked me again in front of my house, this was the shorter one."
And though the three men have been charged for wounding, Castillo believes it was a hate crime because of the homophobic slurs the men kept yelling as they attacked him. He explained that no one should have to endure that level of violence - ever - but especially not because of their sexuality.
Aron Castillo, Victim of Attack
"I don't know if I should call it a hate crime but it did feel something like that because they were already insulting me, and while in the encounter with them too, they were calling me "maricon" and thing so I do felt like that factored in it. I feel like they didn't appreciate the fact that after getting crashed, I stood up for myself."
"After that, an officer was nearby and they detained the three of them. So I think last night, two was released, I think the three of them were charged, but it still has me in a state of shock because now I learnt these people live right at San Pedrito too, not too far from me, I don't want to continue living my life in fear and I'm pretty sure they would not appreciate this, I would understand they have family members, I know they probably have wife and kids, but I could not leave this like this, I had to bring light on my experience and let them know that this behavior is not acceptable and is not right."
"I keep just randomly bursting out into tears because it is something I have never dealt with, I try not to be a troublesome person on this island, I keep to myself, I go to work, I go home."
"I should have not been put through what I was put through but with God first, I will continue and I will heal through this. I would not wish this upon nobody, honestly."
The three men, 24-year-old Alexis Oretencio, 19-year-old Victor Carillo, and 35-year-old Lorenzo Menjivar were arraigned today at the San Pedro Magistrate Court on a single charge of wounding. Orentencio was also charged for driving without care and attention and damage to property, for allegedly damaging Castillo's phone.
In court, the men pleaded not guilty, and alleged that they had not intentionally attacked Castillo, and that it was him and Carillo who were having the confrontation, which they claimed Castillo started when he punched Carillo. Orentencio and Menjivar also claimed that they were only trying to break up the fight.
They were offered bail of $2,000 dollars plus one surety. They are to return to court on February 16, 2023.
San Pedro Resident Is Victim of Alleged Hate Crime
The victim of a vicious beat down on the island of San Pedro, following a minor traffic mishap, is speaking out tonight. Aron Castillo took to his Instagram page over the last twenty-four hours to recount his traumatic encounter with three men on the island who allegedly attacked him in a fit of rage and left him with visible injuries to the face and body. Since his social media posts, persons from across the country have been sending their regards and support for Castillo. But, how did a fender-bender lead to such a horrific attack? Some may say it’s road rage, but many are calling it a hate crime. Castillo is a member of the LGBTQ community, and according to surveillance footage, the accident between the golf cart he was driving and that of his alleged perpetrators was not even his fault. News Five’s Paul Lopez has the story.
Paul Lopez, Reporting
This is the moment that the golf cart Aron Castillo was driving was rear-ended. That incident led to a vicious beat down and him sustaining multiple injuries. The alleged perpetrators are three passengers who were on the golf cart that is reportedly at fault. We spoke with Aron Castillo about what transpired.
Aron Castillo, Victim of Attack
“It was me, my manager and co-worker. We have a company golf cart so I asked her if I could quickly borrow it so I could run some errands because I have some last minute shopping to do. So, I dropped her off and started doing my errands when I found myself south of San Pedro looking for strawberries. I was on my way back when I saw a coworker of my mom and offered her a ride. From there we proceeded to come back into town while by L C Distributors I was rear ended. I have this video that clearly shows they ran right into me.”
Both vehicles pulled over following the incident and, according Castillo, that was when the men began accusing him of being in the wrong. The situation quickly escalated into a verbal altercation.
“We keep going back and forth when I told him if he mih only brace the golf cart the golf it would be broken when he wah mek a comment and say what I know about brace batty-man. I could see the machismo in them. I could see that they never liked that I was standing up for myself; I had a voice so I knew that irritated them. They came up to my space so yes I did push them to say get out of my space we don’t need to do this, so I think that had them riled up.”
Castillo says he proceeded to the San Pedro Police Station to make a formal report, but due to time constraints and other commitments that he had to fulfill, he informed the officers that he would return promptly to file a report. But, unfortunately for Castillo, while on his way home, he came across the same trio. They were now even more incensed than they were at the scene of the mishap.
“Deh look like deh mih the hunt for me, cause the minute they laid eyes on me, eena my head, dah like we got you. We end up eena this chase that they then overtook my car, parked the gulf cart for block the street I am not able to pass. In this moment I asked what am I going to do? I try to floor my golf cart and fly pass but that is when he drag me off my golf cart. In that moment I only remember punches, I am on the ground trying to defend myself. People mih deh around, but nobody wants to intervene. It is something I have never
experienced in my life. It has me traumatized still.”
Castillo says he managed to make his way back to his golf cart and began driving home with the men still in pursuit. He says that while in front of his home, the suspects attacked him once again and that they were eventually warded off by a neighbor with a license firearm. Castillo told us that while he is not trying to make it about his sexual preference; he strongly believes that his outspokenness as a gay man under the circumstances at the scene of the traffic incident turned a fender bender into a vicious beat down.
“It was a factor. I am not going to dwell on it and say it was the full purpose but I do think that upset them. They never like that a homosexual man have a voice and stood up for himself.
I nuh the try throw sexuality in, that is a personal preference. That is something I nuh have to give explanation about to people. That is private. But for some people that is the first thing they want pin point. So, there an then I cut that when they bring it up. I said no, we nuh wah do this.”
Three Men Charged in Connection With San Pedro Beat Down
News Five has confirmed that three persons were arrested and charged in connection with assault on Aron Castillo, following formal report. The suspects are nineteen-year-old Victor Carillo, thirty-five-year-old Lorenzo Menjivar, and twenty-four-year-old Alexis Oretencio. They were arraigned inside the San Pedro Magistrates Court this morning for the crime of Wounding. All three men pleaded not guilty. They claimed that at no time did they intentionally attack Castillo and that when there was a confrontation between Castillo and Carillo, Menjivar attempted to break up the fight. They also alleged that Castillo was the first to punch Carillo. Alexis Oretencio was additionally charged for driving without Due Care and Attention and Damage to Property. He pleaded not guilty. The Magistrate offered all three men two thousand dollars bail, plus a surety of the same amount. They are to return to court on February sixteenth.