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Second suspect arrested in connection with fatal Bronx drug house blast

September 30, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Second suspect arrested in connection with fatal Bronx drug house blast

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One of the suspects who was apprehended in connection with the Bronx drug house blast that killed an FDNY firefighter was held on Thursday without bail Thursday on two counts of drug possession — and may face murder charges, according to prosecutors.

At his arraignment, 32-year-old Garibaldi Castillo, a second suspect in the drug house blast, was charged with two counts of possession of marijuana and was ordered to be held without bail in Bronx Criminal Court, the New York Daily News reported.

Christine Scaccia, a prosecutor with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, suggested that Castillo should be held without bail as he may serve as a flight risk as he faces potential murder charges in connection with the fatal Bronx drug house blast, which killed FDNY deputy chief Michael Fay.

Castillo was allegedly in the drug house on the day of the blast. Shortly afterward, he got rid of a phone number linked to the drug hole — which was stuffed with flammable materials.

Police arrested Garibaldi Castillo, 32, who is charged with two counts of criminal possession of marijuana. (MICHAEL SCHWARTZ/POOL)

Police arrested Garibaldi Castillo, 32, who is charged with two counts of criminal possession of marijuana. (MICHAEL SCHWARTZ/POOL)

“Mr. Castillo has every intention of distancing himself from that location, these facts, and the possibility that there are murder charges,” Scaccia told the judge.

Castillo’s attorney argued that prosecutors were incorrect in referring to the residence as a drug den because police only discovered marijuana plants inside.

Attorney Francisco Serrano said in court: “The plants have to be mature in order to be marijuana … These are what, baby plants? You can’t smoke that.”

He also claimed that the DA’s evidence connecting Castillo to the house was thin.

“They haven’t said that he owns that place, that he rented that space, that he put water into these plants, that the plants are mature,” he stated.

The house had reportedly been under surveillance for at least a month by the Drug Enforcement Agency and the NYPD before Tuesday’s blast.

When taken into custody, Castillo was found with a key for the house’s front door in his pocket.

Detectives are also questioning 34-year-old Julio Salcedo, who is another suspect in the Bronx drug house blast, who was a renter at the residence.

Salcedo was caught in New Jersey and remains in Bergen County Jail without bail as he awaits his extradition to New York.

Law enforcement officials discovered large pot plants growing in pails, marijuana seedlings in the basement, and many artificial heat lamps as well as blue tanks of liquid fertilizer, which is highly flammable, according to Scaccia.

FDNY Deputy Chief Michael Fahy was killed in the explosion. (FDNY)

FDNY Deputy Chief Michael Fahy was killed in the explosion. (FDNY)

She also added that marijuana plants “the size of small trees” were packed in the three bedrooms on the top floor.

Gas tanks of helium were also distributed throughout the house, reportedly to clear pesticides from mature marijuana plants.

On the day Deputy Chief Fahy was killed, the FDNY were first dispatched to the home around 6:30 a.m., after receiving a 911 call for a gas leak.

When Salcedo answered the door, firefights smelt a pungent gas stench pervading the house. They then spotted the marijuana plants, which prompted them to call the NYPD and Con Edison.

Salcedo attempted to flee the scene, first in his vehicle and then on foot.

The 44-year-old victim, who was a married man and father of three, was a firefighter for 17 years. He was reportedly just exiting the building when a massive blast tore off the roof.

Scaccia said: “The explosion had so much force that it blew the roof completely over the power lines and over the tops of trees to land in the middle of the street.”

Fahy was hit and killed by debris that crash-landed on his head, fire officials announced.

Prosecutors are looking into murder charges because they believe that the gas leak behind the fatal drug house blast was produced by tinkering from the weed growers.

“All of the early indications seem to indicate that the reason that the gas leak caused the explosion to the extent that it did was because of the manipulation and construction of this grow house, which included heat sources, fuel sources, flammable liquids, and insulation,” Scaccia said in court.

On Thursday, hundreds of mourners, many dressed in their FDNY uniforms, assembled at a Yonkers funeral home for Chief Fahy’s wake.

Fiona Fahy, his wife, welcomed family and friends with tears filling her eyes.

Firefighters flowed out after the wake, with some visibly wiping tears from their faces.

Mayor de Blasio privately met with the family inside of the funeral home at around 1 p.m.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill and Commissioner Nigro also paid their respects.

“The most important (thing) that we can instill in them is the heart of a firefighter, so you think like a firefighter, and you have that experience and that something that oozes out of you. Mike Fahy had that…He was sharp, he knew what was happening if you gave him an order, he listened, and he always made that coming to work a joy,” said Stephen Damato, a former FDNY captain who trained Fahy as a probationary firefighter.

Deirdre O’Connor worked with Fahy while they were in college at the Platzl Brau House, a convention center and picnic ground near Stony Point, where they both were raised.

“He was truly a great person, an authentic guy, just one of those genuine people,” O’Connor said. “It’s no surprise that this is the field he chose, no surprise.”

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