‘No reason for him to shoot my son’: Navy sailor killed on Mother’s Day; police search for gunman

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 3:52 PM CDT
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MILWAUKEE (WTMJ) - Police in Wisconsin are searching for the person who shot and killed a 19-year-old Navy sailor who was visiting his girlfriend on Mother’s Day.

Phoenix Castanon was in Wisconsin from Arizona over the holiday weekend.

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.

West Allis police said the Mother’s Day incident occurred just before 3 a.m. Castanon approached a man in a car who was bothering a woman. During the argument, that man pulled a gun and shot the 19-year-old.

“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.

Now, she’s pleading for help from strangers in a city she’s never been to in helping to find the man who killed her son.

“Anybody can help; just bring justice for my son,” Nez-Dunklin said.

West Allis police urge anyone with more information to contact them at 414-302-8000.

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