HAMMOND — The man who fired about 30 rounds from an assault rifle into a crowd during a 2015 double homicide suffered a similar fate months later, when he was shot to death during a botched robbery in Gary, according to court records and police.

Romeo J. Castro, 19, of Hammond, wore a bandanna over part of his face June 29, 2015, when he opened fire on a group of about 20 people, from the intersection of Kane Street and Wood Avenue, U.S. District Court records say.

The group, which included members of the Latin Kings, had gathered at a makeshift memorial for 23-year-old Hammond resident Robert Vilella, who was killed the day before. Castro opened fire on orders from an unnamed member of the Jackson Street Latin Counts, whose base of operations is Jackson Avenue in Hammond, according to a complaint.

At least one member of the Latin Kings returned fire with a handgun, court records state.

Lauren Calvillo, 16, died that night, after she was struck down while shepherding neighborhood children inside her home in the 5500 block of Beall Avenue to take cover from the gunfire.

Christopher White, 33, of Hammond, was wounded in the shooting. He subsequently underwent several surgeries and was rendered a quadriplegic, able to use only his right arm, according to court records. He died Dec. 5, 2015, at a Dyer nursing home.

Castro was fatally shot Dec. 19, 2015, after he was allowed entry to a home in Gary's Dorie Miller Housing Complex, gunned down Freddie Veal and turned the gun on a second man.

The second man shot Castro first, killing him. The Lake County prosecutor's office later declined to press charges against the man who shot Castro, Gary police said.

Ivan Reyes, 30, of Calumet City — charged Thursday in connection with the Hammond double homicide — told police he drove Castro to and from the scene, court records state.

Mother of slain girl speaks out

In an emotional Facebook live video Thursday night, Calvillo’s mother, Ollie Hubbard, said the past two-and-a-half years have been the hardest time of her life.

Since the 2015 shooting, Hubbard has been at the forefront of many anti-violence rallies and has raised money for scholarships in her daughter’s name.

In the video, Hubbard held photos of her daughter, saying she felt a mix of emotions but wanted to speak to the many people who have offered her support in her quest for justice.

"Pray for me and my family as we go through one of the hardest journeys of our life and face the ones responsible for taking my daughter's life that day," she said.

Hubbard thanked law enforcement for not giving up on the investigation.

"I have waited for this day for two-and-a-half years," Hubbard said. "I know it's just the beginning."

Police: Defendant drove car to shooting

In an interview with law enforcement after his arrest Tuesday, Reyes told police he was instructed by the unnamed Latin Counts member to drive Castro to the gathering so Castro could "shoot as many Latin Kings as possible."

A significant source of conflict between the Latin Kings and Latin Counts in Hammond "involves the control of drug sales in their neighborhoods," court records state.

The Latin Count who ordered the shooting had seen the Latin Kings gathered on Beall Avenue earlier in the day, and instructed Castro on how to use the rifle before Reyes and Castro left his house, the complaint alleges.

After the shooting, Reyes and Castro stopped in Calumet City to put the rifle in Reyes' trunk and then continued driving on the highway for several hours.

They eventually returned to the unidentified Latin Count's mother's home on Jackson Avenue in Hammond, where a second unnamed Latin Count told them not to talk about the shooting, "because a 'little girl' had been killed."

"They sat there silent for a period of time, smoking cigarettes, and then Reyes took Romeo Castro to a residence in Crete," court records state.

Reyes told police the first unnamed Latin Count instructed him about a week later to dispose of the murder weapon, so he broke it into pieces and threw it into a river.

Vilella's homicide remains an open case, Hammond police said.


Public safety reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.