Deputy shoots, kills armed elderly Riverview man during in-home welfare check
RIVERVIEW, Fla. - The Florida Department of Law Enforcement continues to investigate the shooting death of an elderly Riverview man by a Hillsborough County deputy.
"That is something we ponder and wonder, ‘What was his mindset today?’ … That’s something we will look into and determine what his mindset was," said Sheriff Chad Chronister of 88-year-old Ronald Erich, who was shot and killed after a deputy was called to his Longcrest Drive home Tuesday.
Deputy Anastacia Castillo was dispatched to Erich’s house after a concerned neighbor called 911. The neighbor said Erich’s garage door, and the door leading into his home, had been open for the last two days.
Erich lived by himself.
As Deputy Castillo entered the home, the sheriff said she announced her presence several times.
Chronister said the deputy expected the situation to be of a medical nature, but it quickly turned. The sheriff said Ehrich emerged from behind a locked door with a gun.
"Sir, I just want to make sure you are OK," Castillo can be heard saying on body camera video. "Sir, please put the gun down. Sir, please put the gun down."
The body camera footage shows Deputy Castillo repeatedly pleading with Ehrich to stand down.
Ehrich told her to come out in the open and sit down.
She repeated, "Sir, put the gun down, please."
Ehrich replied, "Sit down or I’ll blow you right out of [the water]."
Deputy Castillo continued her pleas.
"Sir, I don’t want to do this. Please put the gun down," she said.
As Ehrich pinned the deputy into a spare room, she fired off shots.
That's when, after several more warnings, Castillo fired twice.
"She was left with no option, being in fear for her life," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "She never retrieved her firearm until he told her that he had a gun and went to open the door and then she obviously had to protect herself. Until then, her latex gloves were on. She was there to save a life. She was there to render aid."
Deputy Castillo has been with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office since 2015. She has no prior history of use of deadly force.
Ehrich is a former Tampa police officer. He served 23 years with TPD and retired in 1979.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said Ehrich’s son heard the exchange happen through cameras placed in the house. His family called a nearby neighbor and tried to check on their dad.
"I knew he had a gun. Sometimes he had it on the side and I’d say, ‘You’ve got to be careful with that,’ but he wasn’t trigger happy or anything like that," said Angel Ortiz, who said Ehrich was a good, gentle man. "For him to have the door open like that for two days, that’s not him. That was something weird."
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement continues the investigation into a call that turned into tragedy for everyone involved.