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Soccer game in East Hall turns deadly; suspect in custody

Spectator shot repeatedly at close range

POSTED: June 17, 2013 8:44 a.m.

A spectator at a soccer game in East Hall on Sunday afternoon died after he was shot repeatedly at close range.

Saul Merdez Castillo, 41, has been charged with murder and possession of a gun during the commission of a crime, according to a news release sent this morning from the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. He also has an immigration hold since he is not a legal resident, according to the news release.

Castillo will have a first appearance court hearing today. He is being held at the Hall County Jail.

The shooting took place about 4 p.m. at Tadmore Park, 3152 Gillsville Highway.

The 46-year-old victim’s name was being withheld “to allow family to notify next-of-kin, who are out of the country,” authorities said in a press release.

The investigation so far has revealed that the victim and the assailant were spectators at the game, when, at some point, “they confronted each other,” authorities said.

The victim’s assailant “quickly produced a handgun and fired multiple times,” the release states.

“It appears the victim was unarmed,” Wilbanks said.

The shooting took place in front of other spectators, but no one else was injured, Wilbanks said.

“It was a pretty crowded area,” he said.

Castillo tried to leave the area but was stopped by two Hall County marshals who were working security, Wilbanks said.

The marshals “were on the other side of the soccer field near the gate,” he said. “There’s only one way in and one way out, and the (shooter) was running toward (the marshals) and they took him into custody at gunpoint.”

Investigators later determined that Castillo and the victim “were apparently acquainted with each other,” Wilbanks said.

“There’s evidently a history between these two individuals that goes back to El Salvador, the full extent of which we don’t know yet,” he said. “Investigators are still conducting interviews.”

The shooting doesn’t appear to be gang-related, he added.

As for where the two men lived at the time of the shooting, “I don’t have addresses, as of right now,” Wilbanks said. “From what I understand, they were both living in the Gainesville (area).”

The park, which is between Harmony Church and Holly Springs roads, has a sign out front saying it is closed.

“I don’t know if it’s a county league that operates there or if it’s a private organization that has permission to use the park for soccer matches,” Wilbanks said.


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