Police: Person of interest in M Streets crash had criminal record, was previously deported



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Posted on April 17, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 17 at 6:52 PM

DALLAS —- The man named as a person of interest in a crash that killed a 13-year-old boy earlier this week in the M Streets area of Dallas had previously been deported.

A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed Thursday 24-year-old Dagoberto Castanon was deported in October 2012 on the orders of an immigration judge. Authorities are searching for Castanon, who has a history of fleeing from police, stealing cars, and theft in Dallas and Collin counties.

“We believe that this person of interest can give us information in resolving this case,” said Dallas Police Deputy Chief Gil Garza, who oversees the homicide unit. “This is a person that we’d like to make contact with.”

Ethan Vasquez, 13, was in a vehicle with his mother Tuesday morning when a stolen minivan fleeing from Highland Park police slammed into their car in the 5100 block of Monticello Avenue. Vasquez suffered deadly injuries and his mother, Sandy Vasquez, was critically injured.

Garza said Castanon was deemed a person of interest based on physical evidence collected from the minivan and information police gathered. He refused to characterize that physical evidence or information.

Sources tell News 8 that police don’t have any direct physical evidence, such as fingerprints, linking Castanon to the deadly crash. Those sources say a phone recovered from the stolen minivan led them to a woman who told investigators that Castanon had the phone, that he had cuts on his face, and was on the run.

Tuesday's deadly accident began when a Highland Park officer began chasing a minivan that ran several stop signs. Police said the officer called off the chase a short time before the accident because the driver of the van was driving so erratically.

The minivan crashed ultimately crashed into a car carrying the Vasquezes. Another car was also struck during the crash and that driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Witnesses said the driver and passenger inside the van were bleeding as they climbed out of the damaged vehicle and fled on foot. They remain at large, and police are unsure of their identities.

Police have also recovered video evidence indicating that a truck — also stolen — was following the minivan prior to the fatal accident. Given that the suspects seemingly disappeared without a trace, investigators believe they likely got into another vehicle and fled the area.

The truck was later recovered by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, sources said.

Sources have previously told News 8 that investigators found an assault rifle and burglar tools, including a crowbar, bolt-cutters, and pry bars, inside the minivan. Authorities also recovered a cell phone from the minivan.

The van’s back seats had been removed, and that the vehicle's interior appeared to have been wiped clean of any fingerprints.

In Thursday’s press conference, Garza confirmed that the stolen minivan has been involved in property crimes in Dallas County. He also said the stolen truck that was following the minivan is believed to have been involved in property crime offenses.

News 8 has confirmed that Castanon is a suspect in property crime offenses in Carrollton. Sources say that Castanon’s name also has come up in connection with a series of burglaries in the M Streets. In those burglaries, the suspects were driving stolen vehicles.

In 2006, Castanon received three years probation on an auto theft charge and two counts of evading arrest in Dallas County. In 2011, Castanon was put on probation for felony theft and car theft. The probation was later revoked and he received a six month jail sentence.

In 2011, Castanon was put on probation for theft in Collin County. A probation revocation is pending and an arrest has been issued for his arrest, according to officials and court records.

Garza asked for the public’s continued assistance. He asked potential witnesses of the crash to come forward. He also said investigators continue to review Highland Park’s dash cam video.

“This is still an active investigation,” he said.

Thursday, those mourning at Vasquez's school, William B. Travis Vanguard & Academy, hung orange ribbons across the campus. Loved ones said orange was the boy's favorite color.

"Travis heavy hearts are with the Vasquez family," read a sign outside the school. "We will miss you Ethan."

Crime Stoppers and Oak Farms have offered $15,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction in the case. Authorities ask that you call Crime Stoppers at 214-373-8477 or Det. Colleen Shinn at 214-671-3605.

WFAA's Marjorie Owens contributed to this report

E-mail teiserer@wfaa.com