LUBBOCK, Texas — A teenager accused of shooting and killing 18-year-old Christopher Castillo at the South Plains Mall parking lot in May of 2021 was back in court on Thursday. Jake Zachariah Canales, 19, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of Manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
EverythingLubbock.com previously reported police were called for shots fired outside the mall on May 4 just before 10:00 p.m. The Lubbock Police Department said Castillo was taken to University Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the chest and was later pronounced dead.
Since there was a carnival in the parking lot at the time of the shooting, police were able to speak with several witnesses, who led officers to Canales. One witness told police that Castillo “and the guys with him” were taking pictures with a gun. One of the guys shot him, according to the witness.
Court records said Canales, who was 17 at the time, spoke with officers at Monterey High School and told them Castillo stole money from him, and thought he would do it again. Court records said Canales admitted he decided to steal the gun from Castillo as “payback.”
“Canales took [Castillo]’s gun and ran towards [a vehicle] to leave,” the warrant said. “Canales stated [Castillo] grabbed him and then he heard one gunshot and saw Christopher fall to the ground.”
LPD, SWAT, hostage negotiators and the Texas Anti-Gang Unit later responded to a home in the 2000 block of 60th Street and served a theft of a firearm warrant against Canales. He refused to exit the home for more than three hours, police said. LPD later confirmed him as a “person of interest” in the mall shooting.
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Court records said on May 6, a juvenile witness told LPD he spoke with Canales about an hour after the shooting. The juvenile said Canales admitted to shooting Castillo and even said he “should have shot at the ground.”
According to court documents, the juvenile told officers Canales said he “didn’t mean to shoot [Castillo]”. Canales told the juvenile that Castillo grabbed him in the back. The juvenile asked how he shot the victim in the chest, and Canales “would only say that it was an accident,” according to court documents. Canales was then charged with murder on June 24.
Castillo’s family previously told EverythingLubbock.com he was the youngest of five siblings and just recently turned 18. He left behind a daughter who was just 2 years old when Castillo passed away.
Canales will receive credit for 912 days spent in jail.