Two suspects have been arrested in connection to an explosion in the Bronx that killed an FDNY battalion chief on Tuesday and that authorities say was caused by a marijuana-grow operation.
Garivaldi Castillo, 32, from Washington Heights, was taken into custody Wednesday and is being held on marijuana possession charges related to the blast at 304 W. 234th Street. The explosion brought down the three-story building, where a piece of the roof fatally struck FDNY Chief Michael Fahy and injured twenty other first responders.
Julio Salcedo, 34, reportedly the “front man” of the hydroponic pot farm who rented the grow house where the blast occurred, was arrested Tuesday afternoon in Cliffside, New Jersey. He was seen on surveillance video fleeing the residence when firefighters responded to a 6:30 a.m. call of a possible gas leak in the building. Police say that Castillo was also seen entering and leaving the house when they went to investigate the area after receiving a tip about the possibility of a grow house in the building. An NYPD spokesperson says charges are pending against Salcedo.
Though the investigation is ongoing, and authorities cannot confirm the cause of the explosion, sources told DNAinfo that the suspects were allegedly stealing fuel from gas lines in the building, where several sealed and padlocked fertilizer drums were found on Tuesday, both on the second floor and in the basement of the house. Investigators suspect that propane gas tanks producing CO2 used to accelerate the pot growth process may have fueled the blast.
Residents in the neighborhood told the Daily News that Salcedo and Castillo cruised around in BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes.
“This definitely wasn’t college students,” said neighbor Mike Garcia. “We didn’t hear any commotion or see any people. We thought it was shady.”
A donation page was set up for the Fahy family, and funeral services will be held for Chief Fahy, the 44-year-old father of three, on Saturday.