Two men confess to fatal shooting over counterfeit money in University City

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Two men have admitted to their involvement in the fatal shooting of a man in University City, Missouri, in 2022, following a dispute over counterfeit money used to purchase marijuana.

Nathaniel Brown-Shatto, 21, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to one count of knowingly discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime resulting in death. Carlos Albert Castellanos Jr., 22, pleaded guilty on June 6 to one count of conspiracy to possess one or more firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Both Brown-Shatto and Castellanos admitted their involvement in a three-person marijuana conspiracy. Brown-Shatto informed his associates that the victim had previously purchased marijuana from him using counterfeit currency. On Feb. 19, 2022, the trio were together in a vehicle, selling marijuana, and were all armed. When the victim contacted Brown-Shatto to buy more marijuana, they drove to his home in the 7800 block of Birchmont Drive. Castellanos was driving, Brown-Shatto was in the passenger seat, and the third man was in the rear of the vehicle.

According to their plea agreements, when the victim stepped out of his home, Brown-Shatto shot him with a handgun while the third man began shooting him through the vehicle’s sunroof with an AK-style rifle. Investigators later recovered a total of 22 spent cartridge casings from both weapons. Both shooters disposed of their weapons, but Castellanos retained his as he did not use it, the plea agreements state.

Three days later, University City police stopped Castellanos and Brown-Shatto in a vehicle matching the description of the one used by the shooters. Both men were armed with handguns, and officers found about one pound of marijuana in a backpack in the car.

The third man, Emanuel Benito Vasquez, 21, faces charges of marijuana conspiracy, discharging a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime resulting in death, and conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He has not yet been arrested. Charges are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Castellanos is scheduled to be sentenced in December, and Brown-Shatto in November.

The case was investigated by the University City Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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