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GBI identifies Athens park gunman killed by police

Juan Joseph Daniele Castellano

By Joe Johnson

The gunman who was killed by police Sunday morning has been identified as 38-year-old Athens resident Juan Joseph Daniele Castellano.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, officers shot and killed Castellano after the suspect terrorized people at Virgina Walker Park off Trail Creek Street.

Prior to being shot, the man threatened several people in the park, including children, with a gun and committed an armed robbery and carjacking, the GBI said.

When officers located the stolen vehicle, Castellano got out of the vehicle with a long gun and began shouting demands at officers, according to the GBI.

“Officers gave numerous commands to surrender,” the GBI said. “Castellano refused to comply. During the incident, shots were fired. Castellano was shot and died on scene.

No officers or civilians were reported to have been injured during the incident.

Photo taken by witness purports to show Juan Castellano robbing a cash box at entrance to the splash pad area of Virginia Walker Park Sunday morning

Because Castillo was killed by officers, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, per its policy, requested the GBI to conduct an independent investigation, the results of which will be given to the local district attorney for review.

The officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave pending a preliminary review of the incident by ACCPD's Office of Professional Standards.

In addition to the GBI investigation, ACCPD was trying to determine if Castillo was the same person who was involved in gun-related incidents the night before he was killed.

Police said they were notified at 5:19 p.m. Saturday that a man was walking around Vine Street and trying to get into altercations with strangers while holding the gun.

As officers searched for the man, police said they received a call from Walker Park concerning a male shooting at a female in her car, according to the release. The female, who was not injured, fled the area and met with officers.

Police said they closed the park and officers made an extensive ground search, with the aid of a K-9 unit and aerial drones but were unable to locate the male.

According to a witness at the park on Sunday, Castellano came from the back of the park or from the woods

The woman told Classic City News that the man was talking to himself and appeared to be unkempt. As Castellano approached her, the woman said she noticed that the he was holding a gun with an extended magazine, which he concealed with a camouflage jacket that was draped over the weapon.

He reportedly asked the woman two times, “Are you throwing gang signs?”

“He was saying things that didn’t make sense and he pointed the gun at me,” the woman said, “I was staring down the barrel of a gun and praying I didn’t get shot.”

The 28-year-old Athens woman said the encounter occurred near the park’s splash pad where her two young sons were playing.

The witness said Castellano then went to where two teenage boys were minding a cash box at the entrance to the splash pad area and robbed them of the box at gunpoint.

The woman said she warned others in the park about the armed man and called 911.

The woman said that when officers arrived, the man went up a hill toward a parking lot, pointing the gun at people along the way.

After officers arrived, they went toward where the man had gone and then three gunshots rang out, the woman said.

GBI crime scene technicians investigate the scene of an officer-involved shooting in Athens

According to court records, Castellano was sentenced to probation in 2018 after pleading guilty to charges from a family violence incident in which he assaulted his stepson by striking him with a table and committed an act that placed his wife "in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury.".

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