Court docs: Victim refused to hand over cell phone before being fatally shot at Kroger

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Jason Cooper

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Charging information released by the Marion County Prosecutors Office quotes several witnesses who saw Carlos Castro murdered in the dairy aisle of a south side grocery store last Friday night.

Castro’s suspected killer, Jason Cooper, will be in court at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to be officially charged.

He faces four counts including murder, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, armed robbery and resisting law enforcement for the attack at the Kroger store at Southern Plaza, a carjacking in the parking lot and a police pursuit that followed.

In a hearing Tuesday morning, during which prosecutors sought more time to compile a probable cause affidavit, Cooper, in an orange jail jumpsuit and shackles, sat quietly at the defense table without an attorney and gazed around the courtroom where Castro’s family sat in the front row.

He was ordered held without bond.

Court documents quote a Kroger employee, Phillip Purcell, who said Cooper asked him about the location of the store’s kitchen knife display shortly after 8 p.m.

One witness told police that he spotted Cooper with the knife in his belt minutes before the attack.

A shopper, Tina Baker, told investigators, “the suspect stated to the victim, ‘give me your cellphone, give me your cellphone'” and the victim replied, “No man, you’re not getting my damn cellphone. Stop.”

The suspect allegedly took out a knife and started stabbing the victim in his throat or his chest. The victim was shot once and he fell to the ground on his back. Cooper then put his foot on the victim’s chest and fired again, witnesses said.

Castro’s family said the east side man was a responsible legal gun owner and court documents indicate detectives found an empty holster on their victim’s waist.

Several witnesses described a suspect matching Cooper’s appearance attacking Castro or running from the store and firing a gun while the store’s pharmacist attempted to perform CPR on the downed man.

A woman in the Kroger parking lot told police that after the shooting a man with a gun told her, “I’m sorry ma’am I need your car now!” and drove off in her 2007 Toyota Camry.

What followed was a wild police chase of speeds up to 80 miles per hour through southern Marion County and Greenwood, until Cooper crashed the stolen car into two vehicles at a car dealership on U.S. 31 in Johnson County.

Police report that Cooper ran from the crash scene but surrendered 50 yards away, telling officers, “I did the right thing. I did the right thing,” and, “I didn’t want to shoot the guy, but he pointed the gun at me, so I got a knife and stabbed him.”

Investigators said Cooper’s hands and clothes had traces of dried blood as did a gun recovered from the car. A medic said Cooper admitted snorting a line of meth that night.

“Sometimes you can look at someone and know what they’re thinking. So when he made a move, I stuck him with the knife,” a police officer quoted Cooper as saying while he was in the back of an ambulance being examined for any injuries.

“Mr. Cooper appeared to be nervous, twitching, speaking fast and was unable to focus on one topic. Mr. Cooper was dirty and unkempt. In my training and experience as a law enforcement officer, I believed Mr. Cooper to be on narcotics,” wrote Homicide Detective Jean Burkert.

A coroner’s autopsy found Castro suffered two gunshot wounds and three stab wounds, some of them to the chest and head which would have been individually fatal.

While declining an on-camera interview after Cooper’s 72-hour hearing, Castro’s family said that the victim was an honorable man and the father of three children.

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