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Lower Pottsgrove teen charged with attempted murder after shooting classmate, Chester County DA says

Raul Castro, 15, shot another teenager during a petty dispute, according to investigators.

Raul Castro, 15, has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and related offenses.
Raul Castro, 15, has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and related offenses.Read moreCourtesy Chester County District Attorney's office (custom credit)

A Lower Pottsgrove teen, in the heat of a petty dispute, shot a classmate near the border in Chester County, leaving the boy critically wounded, according to investigators.

Raul Castro, 15, was arraigned Tuesday and charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, simple assault, gun violations, and related offenses, court records show. He remained in custody in Chester County in lieu of $1 million bail.

“Thirty years ago, this incident would have been a fist fight and nothing else,” Chester County District Attorney Thomas P. Hogan said in a statement. “But the defendant decided to bring a gun to the fight, almost leading to the first Chester County murder of 2019.”

A witness told police Castro shot a 14-year-old in the abdomen and shoulder late Monday underneath an abandoned railroad bridge in East Coventry Township. Castro fled to the Montgomery County side of the Schuylkill, where he was taken into custody by officers responding to the shooting.

He told police he “tried to help” the victim by putting pressure on his gunshot wounds, according to the affidavit of probable cause for his arrest. Castro added that he “felt bad after [he] did it.”

A gun recovered at the scene, believed to have been used in the shooting, is registered to Gary DiFerdinand, 67, who lives at the same address as Castro and is identified in public records as his grandfather.

The victim, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile, was taken to Reading Hospital, where he remained Tuesday, according to investigators.

A third teen present at the time of shooting told investigators that he, Castro, and the victim were friends, until an argument over the weekend, the affidavit said. Castro and the victim are both freshman at Pottsgrove Senior High School.

After the argument, Castro told the two other teens that “he did not want to be their friend anymore” and said he wanted a “real fight” with them, according to the affidavit. The teen told police he didn’t know why Castro was upset.

As the teen was leaving school Monday, he received a text message from Castro asking to meet him by the railroad bridge. According to the affidavit, the teen and the victim met Castro there, and the group walked toward the Chester County side of the river.

During their walk, the teen heard gunshots and ran ahead, hiding nearby. From his vantage point, he saw Castro standing over the victim, who was lying on the ground, holding his stomach, the affidavit said.

As the teen got closer, he told police, he saw that the victim was bleeding and holding a gun to his chest. He said Castro fled after telling the other teens to call 911.

This story has been updated to add the name of the high school the teens attended and to correct the hometown of Castro.