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June 18, 2018

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Suspect in attacks on homeless men was spotted by police sleeping in car

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Steve Marcus

Metro Police homicide Lt. Dan McGrath, left, and Capt. Robert Plummer, respond to questions during a news conference at Las Vegas Metro Police headquarters in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. Police announced Joshua Castellon, 26, of Las Vegas, is in custody and is a suspect in a rash of attacks against homeless men.

Police Announce Arrest in Homeless Attacks

Metro Police homicide Lt. Dan McGrath responds to questions during a news conference at Las Vegas Metro Police headquarters in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. Metro Capt. Robert Plummer is in the background at left. Police announced Joshua Castellon, 26, of Las Vegas, is in custody and is a suspect in a rash of attacks against homeless men. Launch slideshow »
Joshua Castellon

Joshua Castellon

Less than three days after Joshua Emmanuel Castellon went to a Las Vegas gun store to pick up a Taurus .357 revolver he'd illegally purchased online for $388, he randomly targeted his first victim, according to authorities.

By sunrise on Jan. 29, Castellon, 26, had also opened fire on two homeless men at different locations. Four days later, it happened again.

And by the end of the crime spree, Brian Wayne Clegg, 51, and James Edgar Lewis, 64, were dead, and two other men — one who was homeless — had survived gunshot wounds.

Today, Metro Police announced that Castellon was arrested Friday, noting that he's no longer a danger to the vulnerable population he’d allegedly been targeting, which sent the community and police into high alert.

A possible motive for the shootings has not been determined, but police and federal court records released Tuesday outlined how the investigation was pieced together through ballistic analysis, an anonymous tipster, surveillance images, officer interactions with the suspect and purchase records.

Castellon is in federal custody — arrested by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — and charged with one count of illegal acquisition of the firearm connected to the shootings. Metro investigators are waiting to book him on two counts each of murder and attempted murder.

The onslaught began about 12:30 a.m. Jan. 29 at a Logandale gas station. A man who was cleaning a car wash was asked for directions by a man in a small SUV, authorities said. When he turned around, he heard two gunshots, and after running away, he realized he'd been shot in the arm.

In their investigation, Metro later placed Castellon and his Hyundai SUV near Logandale around the time of the shooting, through a license plate check by an officer in the area, Metro Lt. Dan McGrath said.

About 3 a.m. that same day, Clegg was found shot to death in the 2900 block of West Washington Street, where he had been sleeping in front of a swap meet, police said. Surveillance images captured what appeared to be the same SUV from the earlier shooting.

About four hours later, a homeless man reported being injured near Veterans Memorial Drive and Washington Avenue, authorities said. Due to being drunk, he hadn't realized he'd been shot, and an X-ray displayed a bullet lodged in his neck.

Police learned the shooting likely occurred about 3:45 a.m.

On Feb. 2, surveillance images captured the gunman driving to the area of 14th Street and U.S. 95, getting out of his SUV, approaching a sleeping Lewis and opening fire.

Metro later that day announced that Lewis' death might have been connected to at least two other shootings.

Four days later on Feb. 6, Metro Capt. Robert Plummer said four shootings were connected and released clearer images of the suspected gunman, noting that he legally wasn't considered a serial killer, but could have well been on his way to becoming one.

Two days later, about 5:45 a.m., a graveyard Metro patrol officer spotted Castellon sleeping outside his sister's apartment complex near Washington Avenue and Rainbow Boulevard inside his SUV, authorities said. He told the officer that he was a Lyft driver and was too tired to go inside.

A representative for the ride-sharing app did not respond Tuesday night to a comment request.

The investigation into Castellon ramped up the following days. Through his estranged wife and purchasing records, they found out that he'd bought a revolver, which he'd picked up on Jan. 26, authorities said. “Once we focused on this individual and got these multiple pieces of information, then everything started coming together,” Metro Lt. Dan McGrath said.

McGrath said that investigators learned Castellon had recently faced a domestic-violence-related charge and that there had been a breakup, prompting him to stay with family and friends and sleep in his SUV.

The ballistic analysis determined that the gunshots likely came from the same revolver, and his clothes and vehicle matched that of the suspect captured on video, authorities said.

Castellon's federal charge stemmed from him telling investigators that he'd bought the gun, which hasn't been recovered, to sell to "a friend of a friend," something he misrepresented in the ATF application, according to court documents.

The investigation was "a combination of patrol work and investigative work,” to include homicide detectives, the FBI and ATF, McGrath said. It was "significant amount of work. A lot of hours."