Suspect in Cincinnati Entertainment district murder allegedly seen on video

MGN Online
Monday, March 24, 2014 - 9:27pm

Monday morning, El Paso Police Detectives made an arrest in the murder of 22-year-old Efren Gonzalez. Gonzalez, a 22-year-old El Paso Community College student died in a parking lot near the popular Cincinnati Entertainment district early Saturday morning.

The arrest affidavit obtained by Local 4 News Monday afternoon names Luis Castruita, 36, of the 600 block of Prospect as the man who pulled the trigger, killing Gonzalez.

According to the arrest affidavit, Gonzalez and two friends were crossing N. Mesa and Robinson at approximately 2:28 a.m. when Castruita, who was driving a 2008 Dodge Caravan northbound got into an argument with Gonzalez and his group of friends. The group continued on foot across N. Mesa and Castruita allegedly followed the three into the Miner Plaza complex, where the Little Caesars' Pizza is located.

The group and Castruita continued arguing with each other and then Castruita allegedly pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and pointed it through the passenger window of the Caravan and pulled the trigger. The bullet struck Gonzalez in the chest, and he immediately fell to the ground, while Castruita allegedly fled the scene southbound through the Miner Plaza parking lot.

A video was located where Castruita's Caravan can be seen entering and leaving the scene according to the affidavit.

Sunday, police received information that Castruita could possibly be involved in the case and that he also drove a gray Dodge Caravan, like the one described by witnesses and seen in the video. Castruita was later identified in a photo lineup by two witnesses.

Witnesses at the scene described the gray Dodge Caravan involved in Gonzalez' murder as gray, having damage to the front passenger quarter panel, and Castruita's Caravan had similar damage as described by witnesses.

Castruita was located by law enforcement on Monday morning at his home in the 600 block of Prospect. He was placed under arrest for a probation violation warrant and three traffic warrants. A criminal history check of Castruita reveals more than a dozen arrests stemming from traffic violations, to family violence causing bodily injury. He was convicted in a Federal court in January of 2005 for Federal drug trafficking charges.

Castruita was most recently arrested by El Paso County Sheriff's for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Bexar County October 7, 2013. No additional information about the incident in Bexar County was immediaty available. On October 17, a Federal judge entered an oral order revoking Castruita's probation/ supervised release stemming from the prior drug trafficking conviction.

During the interview with law enforcement, Castruita stated that he drove his van to the scene of the shooting, but an unknown passenger shot Gonzalez. However, all witnesses at the scene gave statements indicating that Castruita was the only occupant of the Dodge Caravan

A search warrant was obtained by the El Paso Police Department and executed on Castruita's home and van. Detectives were able to locate a Taurus PT7 .40 caliber handgun inside of Castruita's bedroom. The affidavit indicates that the caliber of the handgun is consistent with the slug found at the scene and the color of the handgun matches the description given by witnesses.

Castruita was subsequently charged with Efren Gonzalez' murder and has been booked into the El Paso County Detention Facility on a $1,000,000 bond.

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