Police Arrest Milwaukee Man Who Allegedly Murdered and Gunned Down 19-Year-Old Navy Sailor

Police in West Allis have arrested a suspect in connection with the shooting death and murder of a 19-year-old Navy sailor.

The West Allis Police Department detectives and SWAT team arrested the 36-year-old man on Wednesday in connection with the murder of Phoenix Castanon, according to a press release by the police department. Police are not seeking any other suspects at this time.

Castanon, of Eagar, Arizona, was fatally shot at about 2:40 a.m. May 8 near South 84th and West Becher streets, police said. 

His fiancée, Ash Rodriguez, told the Arizona Republic that the two were planning an April 2024 wedding.

“He was always there to help, whether he knew you or not,” Rodriguez said. “If he felt the need to step in, he would.”

Castanon began his career as an assessment sailor in November of 2020, U.S. Navy Spokesman Matthew Mogle stated. he had been close to graduating from the Navy technical school as well.

Back on May 9th, police shared a description of a shooting suspect. Just two days later, police released photos of the vehicle they believed was used in the crime.

Castanon’s mother, Tiata Nez-Dunklin, said he enlisted in the Navy last year. Nez-Dunklin is a Navy veteran herself.

“To know that he wanted to follow in my footsteps. His dad was also in the Army,” she said.

“There was no reason for him to shoot my son. To me, that’s just so cowardly. To use a weapon to take a child, my child’s life,” Nez-Dunklin said.

Castanon’s mother said her son was known for his big heart, always sticking up for others, protecting her, his 15-year-old sister and 9-year-old brother. He was their hero.

“They’re hurting. They’re trying their very best to stay strong, but they’re just as lost as we are, along with his dad,” Nez-Dunklin said.

In their last phone conversation, Castanon’s mother said they said they loved each other, as they always did, and he sent a text message just hours before the shooting.

“He was asking me what I wanted for Mother’s Day. He told me that he loved me,” Nez-Dunklin said.

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