‘God kept me here for a reason’: Painter shot at High Point apartment describes survival

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Byron Castillo thought that Jan. 30 was going to be his last day on Earth.

The pressure from the bullet wound in his chest was unbearable as he laid on the couch inside the front office of the Chatham Wood Apartment complex. 

He was bleeding uncontrollably and was quickly becoming short of breath. 

“I was thinking about staying alive,” Byron said.  “Everybody around me, I was asking them to not let me go.” 

Just ten minutes earlier, Byron was showing up to work at the complex. 

Four months before the shooting, he said he was hired by Chatham Wood Apartment to paint several units and help with maintenance. 

That January morning Byron was given the number to a unit that had made a maintenance request. Unbeknownst to everyone, it was the wrong unit. 

“I showed up, sat outside in my truck, drank my coffee before I start the day,” Byron said. He said he was on the phone with his wife at the time. 

He hung up and then walked to the door to begin work. 

“I knocked three times...I was announcing myself too, every time I was knocking," Byron said.

On the third knock, the resident opened the door and shot Byron in the chest with “no warning.” 

Byron felt the bullet Pearce his chest and exit his side.

“I just saw light [from the gun]...and loud noise. I just fell to my knee...'cause when I felt the shot, I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to die.’ That was my thinking," Byron said.

He dropped his cell phone, stumbled backwards and tried to get to his car.

“I noticed I dropped my phone so, I got back to get it...I’m saying to him, 'I was just maintenance. I was here to help repair your apartment,'" Byron said.

He got into this truck and drove to the front office where he was taken care of until the ambulance arrived. 

911 calls detail how the person who shot Byron followed him to the front office but was refused entrance by the apartment staff. The person then went back to their unit. 

Byron, in those moments, could feel his life slipping away. He said he prayed for himself and the person who shot him.

“I was just asking God to forgive me for everything. For everything, even the guy that shot me. I forgive him," Byron said.

He was even able to pull his cell phone out and call his wife whom he spoke with seconds before the shooting.

“'Cause you get to the point that...this is it. I want to be able to say goodbye to my kids. I want to make sure that they hear me, and I love them," Byron said.

Byron was able to get to the hospital in time for doctors to repair much of what was damaged. During surgery, they discovered that the bullet missed his heart by a centimeter. He spent the next 22 days in the hospital to be treated for a gunshot wound to his chest and an infection on the exit wound along his side.

Those weeks away from his five children, including his two-year-old daughter Gabriella, gave him new perspective on his new mission in life.

“One point is life, and the other one is death. I was in between,” Byron said. “And for some reason, God kept me here for a reason. God is good.” 

In those “in between” moments, he explained that he could feel God calling him to be a light unto others. He points to the story of Job in the Bible as his inspiration. 

Though he has forgiven the man who shot him, Byron and his wife are frustrated after hearing no charges would be brought against the shooter. “The guy is free. Like I said: I forgive the guy, but he needs to face the law," Byron said.

He explained that no one has been able to explain to them why no charges were filed, which has left them searching for answers. 

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