Joe Arpaio Holds Press Conference to Announce Man Fatally Shot by Deputy Was Illegal Immigrant

With much of the local media focused on the tragedy in Tucson, it seems somebody feels a little left out.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio held a press conference Monday to announce what was billed as "new important information" regarding the case of a man fatally shot by one of his deputies last week. Arpaio's "important information," we've come to find out, is that the man killed was an illegal immigrant.

Felipe Ramirez Castellanos, 43, was shot by a sheriff's deputy in the head and hip Friday night after he aimed an AK-47 at the deputy. Castellanos died early Monday morning at the Maricopa County Medical Center.

Sheriff's deputies responded to Castellanos' home on the 9100 block of East Crescent Drive in Mesa around 10:30 p.m. Friday, after neighbors reported he'd had an argument with his wife and fired several rounds from a handgun as he drove away.

Upon returning to his house a few minutes later, Castellanos grabbed his AK-47 and began to back out of his driveway before being contacted by deputies.

When Castellanos pulled out the AK-47 and pointed it at one of the deputies, he was gunned down by a 25 or 26-year-old sheriff's deputy who "could've saved many lives," Arpaio says.

Arpaio thinks Castellanos was up to something though, as deputies recovered a total of 120 bullets and a bowie knife -- in addition to the guns -- from his vehicle.

"We still don't know what he was doing. I'm sure he wasn't going hunting." Arpaio says. "You know where I'm going with this too, with the tragedy in Tucson."

When asked whether Castellanos was mentally ill, Arpaio says, "he sure looked like he was crazy during that altercation."

Arpaio says the shooting, which stemmed from an argument between Castellanos and his wife over drugs, wasn't his first run-in with law enforcement.

First arrested by an unnamed federal agency in 1986 for human smuggling, Castellanos was deported and later re-entered the country on a work visa in 1997, Arpaio says.

His visa expired in 2001, and was denied an extension due to his criminal history. However, after being picked up during a traffic stop in April 2010, Castellanos was turned over to ICE, but escaped deportation thanks to an administrative judge, Arpaio says.

"He was ready for some type of action," Apraio says. "Was he going to kill a law enforcement officer? If we didn't shoot this guy, what would've happened?"

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley