Kingsbridge explosion suspects face felony charges

FDNY captain killed in house explosion|FDNY captain killed in house explosion
Photo by Edwin Soto|Photo courtesy of FDNY

Police continue to investigate a Kingsbridge home explosion that killed an FDNY officer last week,

So far they have arrested two men in connection with a marijuana growing operation being run out of the house.

Julio J. Salcedo-Contreras, 34, a resident living at the 300 W. 234th Street multi-family home, was arrested and charged with first-degree and second-degree criminal possession of marijuana, class C and D felonies, respectively.

Police allege he was responsible for growing marijuana plants in the rental home.

Also arrested was Garivaldi Castillo, 32, of Manhattan, who faces the same charges.

Bronx D.A.’s Office Director of Public Information Patrice O’Shaughnessy said the two men were being held without bail after they appeared briefly in court Tuesday. October 4 and may face additional charges.

“Prosecutors said they also plan to present to a grand jury assault charges for the death of the battalion chief and the injury of an FDNY lieutenant,” she said.

Murder charges were also a possibility, O’Shaughnessy added, since the crime scene investigation was still open.

Salcedo-Contreras and Castillo were scheduled to appear in court again Wednesday, October 19 at the Bronx Hall of Justice at 265 E. 161st Street.

Investigators have determined the explosion was caused by a gas main that had been tampered with on the property, possibly by one of the men arrested, according to police.

The makeshift gas line illegally diverted gas into the apartment for use in the operation, according to police.

Fertilizer was also found in the apartment by first responders just before it ignited.

That explosion killed FDNY Battalion Chief Michael Fahy, 44, of Yonkers, and injured 20 others.

A funeral for Fahy was held Saturday in Yonkers and was attended by thousands of firefighters from across the city, state and country.

Another grow house was discovered Monday afternoon in a large apartment building at 1962 University Avenue in Morris Heights, according to the NYPD.

Police, firefighters and Con Edison employees responded to an anonymous report of a marijuana odor coming from a basement apartment and found approximately 90 plants and growing equipment.

Responders also found an unsafe level of high voltage – roughly 70 amps – being pumped into the small apartment in a manner that avoided detection by the electric meters.

The lone tenant of the apartment was not home at the time and was being sought by police as of Tuesday evening for questioning.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano