A Chicago woman on Monday afternoon was shot dead in a grade school parking lot by her estranged husband who then fled and killed himself moments later, authorities said.
Officers responded to a call of shots fired outside St. Mary Catholic School, at 525 N. Broad St., in Griffith, Ind., at about 4:30 p.m. and arrived to find a woman identified as Nina Castro lying in the parking lot with a gunshot wound, Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance said.
He said her husband, Remanard Castro, sped from the scene on a motorcycle, and Griffith police notified Gary police that he might be headed back to his residence in the 600 block of Roosevelt Street in Gary.
A Gary police officer spotted Castro minutes later, alerted police and followed him to his house, where he found Castro with a handgun in the garage at the rear of the house, police said.
The officer ordered Castro to drop his weapon, but Castro shot himself, Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram Sr. said, adding that he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mance said Nina Castro was picking up her 14-year-old son from an after-school program after having picked up her 16-year-old daughter from Bishop Noll High School in Hammond. The two children witnessed the shooting, he said.
Nina Castro and the children had moved out of the Roosevelt Street home and into her mother’s home in Chicago in recent months, Mance said.
The couple were divorcing, with a final hearing scheduled for June 10, according to Lake County court records.
Earlier this year, Castro was charged with rape and criminal confinement for allegedly sexually assaulting his wife at his home last year. His wife went to Castro’s home to retrieve some belongings, and Castro pointed a handgun at her forehead and forced her to have sex with him, then threatened to beat her with a crowbar, according to prosecutors.
The chief said Monday’s incident is a “sad reminder that no community is immune to domestic violence.”
Children participating in St. Mary’s after-school program were secured and unharmed, police said.
The Rev. Theodore Mens, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church, said St. Mary School was not in session because of the Easter holiday but that after-school programs were being held. He said teachers and counselors will be made available to St. Mary students Tuesday when they return.
Griffith resident Daniel MacFarlane was working in his garage across the street from the school when he heard a few bangs about 4:30 p.m. Monday He peered outside the garage but didn’t see anything. Shortly afterward, he saw a police car arrive and then a bunch of them.
“The kids in an after-school (catechism) class were on lockdown,” MacFarlane said. “My neighbor was kind of freaking out, so she went to pick up her kid.”
He said another shooting occurred in a nearby alleyway last summer, but no one was injured.
“It’s definitely kind of scary, especially since it happened around the time kids were out playing before the weather turned,” he said.