The circumstances surrounding the double shooting at the Seville Motel, which left a Weehawken man dead by his own hand and a North Bergen resident seriously wounded, were described by law enforcement officials as "best described as bizarre."
According to the Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, the Weehawken man, identified as 27-year-old Roy Castellanos, apparently in a drug-induced rage, shot a total stranger in the groin, then turned the gun on himself while the shooting victim's girlfriend looked on.
"We are very fortunate that more people were not seriously injured or killed," DeFazio said. "This was someone who was not acting in a rational fashion. The entire course of events can best be described as bizarre."
Only 8 a.m.
Around Friday at 8 a.m., workers at the popular transient motel, which was prominently featured in the opening minutes of the Academy Award winner for Best Picture of 1969, "Midnight Cowboy," were going about their business, cleaning rooms and such for the upcoming day.
Castellanos, who was outside, opened fire on 33-year-old Oscar Gonzalez of North Bergen through the window of Gonzalez' room.
Castellanos struck Gonzalez twice with bullets and entered Gonzalez' room in the process. Once he entered the room, Castellanos shot himself once in the head while Gonzalez' girlfriend, an unidentified West New York woman, watched in disbelief.
According to DeFazio, Castellanos had recently arrived in the United States from the Dominican Republic. His immigration status was not known. He was staying with his sister in Weehawken until last Tuesday, when the sister asked him to leave, also apparently because of Castellanos' drug use.
Castellanos apparently checked into the Seville Motel after his sister asked him to leave the Weehawken premises. North Bergen police and Hudson County Prosecutor's Office investigators found drugs in Castellanos' room after the fatal shooting, but would not reveal the total nor the content.
On Friday morning, before the shooting, Castellanos apparently got into an altercation with one of the maids at the Seville. The maid said that Castellanos physically accosted her.
Then, Castellanos entered someone else's room, saying that he was looking for his wallet. But he left.
He then knocked on the door of the room occupied by Gonzalez and his girlfriend. Castellanos brandished a nine-millimeter handgun and fired the first shot at Gonzalez through the room's window, hitting Gonzalez in the groin.
After Castellanos fired the first shot, he then reached through the broken window, unlocking the door, and went inside the room. Once inside the room, Castellanos opened fire on Gonzalez again, this time striking him in the chest.
According to police reports, Castellanos apparently pointed the gun at Gonzalez' girlfriend, but then turned the gun on himself and fired one shot to the side of his head.
North Bergen police responded to the scene around 8:20 a.m. Once it was determined that there was indeed a homicide, the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office Homicide Squad took over the investigation.
Gonzalez was taken to the Jersey City Medical Center and as of press time Thursday, he remained hospitalized, listed in critical but stable condition.
Several guests of the motel were detained and asked questions about the incident, but no one really had any answers as to what triggered Castellanos' rampage.
Police and investigators both reported that Castellanos didn't utter a word during the entire incident.
"It is disturbing because the circumstances are so bizarre," DeFazio said.
On Monday, four days after the shooting, the first of its kind in North Bergen in over a decade, it was learned that the gun had been stolen from Castellanos' sister's boyfriend, who also lives in Weehawken.
"We can't believe something like this happened here," said one of the cleaning personnel at the motel who asked to remain anonymous. "People come and go every day. We never have problems. This really shocked and scared all of us. You can't stop something like this from happening."