Trio charged with Wounding in alleged hate crime
Tuesday, December 20th, 2022
On Tuesday, December 20th, Alexis Copo, 24, Victor Carillo, 19, and Lorenzo Menjivar, 35, were jointly charged with the crime of Wounding after being accused of attacking and causing severe injuries to islander Aron Aidan Castillo. Copo was additionally charged with Driving with No Care and Attention and Damage to Property. The trio pleaded not guilty to the charges, were offered bail of $2,000 plus one surety, and must return to court on February 16, 2023.
The official police report details that the incident started after 4PM on Sunday, December 18th, when Castillo was driving on Coconut Drive in his work’s golf cart heading to San Pedrito, where he lives. Suddenly, a golf cart driven by Alexis Copo rear-ended his cart. Castillo pulled to the side of the street, and so did Copo, who was accompanied by Carillo and Menjivar. Castillo said Copo offered to take care of any damages and suggested they exchange contact details to follow up. However, an argument reportedly started when Copo saw a beer bottle in Castillo’s cart and tried to blame him for the crash. At this point, Castillo said he was insulted and called derogatory names related to his sexual orientation and being part of the LGBT community.
Castillo was advised to contact the authorities and ended up driving to the police station after being unable to reach them via phone. He said that reporting the matter would take some time, and he had some work at home; thus, he decided to return later to file the report. After leaving the police station, Castillo reported that he encountered Copo and his companions, who set chase after him on his way to San Pedrito. Castillo said he tried to drive faster as he feared for his safety. He said the cart overtook his and parked in front, blocking the way. Castillo said they went after him, and a confrontation started. “Three persons against one, I even told them that, but they did not care,” said Castillo. At some point, he ran towards a vegetable store seeking help but was told to leave. When he returned to his golf cart, he noticed the screen on his cell phone was damaged.
Castillo said he started driving home when he noticed he was being followed once again by the trio. “I ran inside my house and asked my dad to help me. He said two of the guys started talking to him when Carillo jumped on him, and the fight started again. Carillo was reportedly beating and choking Castillo. According to the report, a neighbor had to pull out his licensed firearm to break the fight. “Why were they so violent? I have no idea. It was uncalled for and unnecessary,” said Castillo. After the ordeal, he returned to the police station and filed a report. After that, Copo, Carillo, and Menjivar were arrested in San Pedrito.
During their arraignment at the San Pedro Magistrate Court, Copo said in his defense he drove into Castillo’s cart’s rear end after it abruptly stopped. Castillo said this could clearly be disputed as the images of a surveillance video from that area of Coconut Drive shows otherwise. Copo said he was driving with due care, did not intend to damage Castillo’s phone, and pleaded not guilty. Copo also noted that they were not following Castillo and were heading in the same direction, to San Pedrito, because they were dropping Menjivar off at his house in that same subdivision. Carillo argued that Castillo punched him first. Menjivar disputed the Wounding charge, claiming not to be involved in the fight and was just trying to break up the altercation. The prosecution, however, kept the charge on him. Menjivar added that he might leave the island because he has been threatened. The Magistrate warned them that their bail could be canceled if they miss their court date in February.
Castillo said he is thankful to have survived the attack and is now trying to recover. He is traumatized and felt he needed to share his story to raise awareness of these types of attacks. He wants justice and thinks what happened to him was very unfair, which he considers a hate crime based on his sexuality.
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