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Police arrest mother and son in relation to drug-related homicide in Carbondale

Tri-County Independent
Tri-County Independent
 2022-08-10
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CARBONDALE — Shots broke out at the Fallbrook Street Apartment complex late Monday, August 8, leading to the death of Pernell Simmons. After a prompt investigation, Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) arrested Taaj Qaadir Blan, 21 of Moosic, late the following day for homicide and related charges. Police also arrested Blan's mother, Margaret Del Castillo, 46 of Moosic, on charges related to obstructing officers and destroying evidence.

According to the affidavit of probable cause issued by Trooper Girard Dempsey and Trooper Ryan Kearney, 911 Dispatch received two emergency calls around 11:30 p.m. Monday regarding shots fired at Fallbrook Apartments and a young man laying on the ground, seemingly deceased.

The victim, Pernell Simmons, was identified by a neighbor who placed one of the 911 calls. On scene investigation revealed he had been shot three times in the chest before spiraling and falling to the ground. Lackawanna County Coroner Timothy Rowland pronounced him dead on site. During site investigation, PSP recovered a spent 9MM Luger casing.

Reviewing video surveillance of the incident, PSP saw a silver Scion T.C. Coupe drive up. According to the Dempsey-Kearney affidavit, Simmons exits one of the apartments, approaches the vehicle and holds a short conversation with the driver. The car then drives a few feet away and stops, Simmons walks up to the driver side window to resume the conversation and is shot.

The driver, who PSP alleges is Blan, exits the car to grab something on the ground near Simmons' body before driving away. In doing so, the driver reveals he is wearing blue pants, a black hoodie and sneakers.

Roughly 30 minutes before the incident, as reported by a witness in the affidavit, Simmons, the witness and two unidentified minor males had driven to Carbondale's West Side Park for a drug deal with an individual unknown to the witness.

Court papers state the witness reported to PSP that the unknown individual did not show up, but he and Simmons spoke on the phone in a "hostile" manner. According to the witness, the unknown man on the other end of the call wanted to change the meeting place, but Simmons refused.

Afterwards, Simmons, the witness, and the two unidentified young men returned to Fallbrook Apartments. A few minutes later, the witness saw a silver Scion T.C. Coupe, the same vehicle police allege Blan drove, pull up, and the homicide took place.

Grabbing the license plate from video surveillance, PSP traced the Scion's ownership to Blan and issued a search warrant request. While waiting for the warrant approval, PSP kept an eye on the car, now parked outside a residence on Cemetery Street. According to the Dempsey-Kearney affidavit, around 7 a.m., August 9, observed a woman place a bag into the car and drive off.

PSP initiated a traffic stop and allege they found Del Castillo behind the wheel and a bag containing various clothing including blue pants, a black hoodie and sneakers in the car. According to the affidavit, Del Castillo told police she was running errands, including washing the clothes in the bag. She allegedly told police she didn't know what was in the bag, only that it needed to be washed.

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