Assault charges in fatal Kingsbridge explosion case

The explosion practically leveled the two-story private home at 300 W. 234th Street, just a block from Kingsbridge Road.
Photo by Edwin Soto

Charges have been upgraded against two men arrested following a house explosion in Kingsbridge that killed a FDNY captain and injured more than 20 others to include felony assault.

Garivaldi Castillo, 32, of Manhattan and Julio Jose Salcedo Contrer, 34, of New Jersey, were arraigned Wednesday, October 19 by Chief Administrative Judge Robert Torres and indicted on charged of first and second-degree assault, class B and D violent felonies, respectively, as well as first-degree criminal possession of marijuana, a class C felony, the Bronx District Attorney’s office announced last week. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The two men had originally been hit with drug-related charges when arrested just after the Tuesday, Sept.ember 27 explosion on 300 W. 234th Street that leveled the two-level multifamily home and caused significant damage to surrounding homes.

Captain Michael Fahy, 44, a 17-year department member and a chief for the FDNY’s 19th Battalion, was killed while standing outside the home when a portion of the building fell on his head when the building collapsed at around 7:30 a.m.

Fahy was among a group of firefighters, police, and Con Edison employees that responded to the home after a gas odor was reported.

“Chief Fahy responded to a building that turned out to be a time bomb,” Said District Attorney Darcel Clark on statement following the indictment. “These defendants allegedly were growing marijuana and kept flammable substances on the premises. Chief Fahy ordered residents out of the building – including one of the defendants – -and saved their lives. He was mortally injured when the force of the explosion blew off the slate roof and it struck him.”

Fahy was remembered during a funeral attended by thousands in his Yonkers family parish.

Fahy, a second-generation FDNY captain who gave up a career as an attorney to be a firefighter, was also promoted posthumously to the rank of deputy chief.

Castillo and Contrer were originally arrested on drug related charges due to the large number of marijuana plants found in the home after the explosion.

The second floor apartment had been converted to a massive marijuana growing operation that used large amounts of propane and fertilizer, which contributed to the explosion.

Someone had illegally tapped into the gas line underneath the home to use the gas without being detected or having to pay for it, according to the NYPD.

Both men could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted on all charges, according to the district attorney’s office.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com.

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