A California-based truck driver has pleaded guilty to charges related to the shooting death of another truck driver at a Pilot truck stop in January 2021.
On June 22, 46 year old David Rodriguez of Rialto, California, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the death of Florida-based truck driver Ricardo Menezes De Castro.
Rodriguez had previously been charged with homicide, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes in connection with the death of De Castro.
The fatal shooting took place on January 23, 2021, at a a Pilot Travel Center in Union Township, New Jersey.
Around 12:37 p.m., New Jersey State Police received several 911 calls regarding a shooting at the truck stop. When they arrived on the scene, they found De Castro inside the truck stop suffering from gunshot wounds.
De Castro was transported to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Investigators later learned that Rodriguez and De Castro did not know one another prior to the incident, but became involved in an argument that turned physical.
Rodriguez told the judge that he opened fire on De Castro from about 10 feet away after the man swung at him several times while Rodriguez kept backing up.
Rodriguez reportedly fired four times, hitting De Castro twice, MyCentralJersey.com reports.
Following the shooting, Rodriguez went back to his truck and called 911, telling dispatchers that he shot another truck driver who spit at him. He also told dispatchers that he was sitting inside his truck and that he had removed the ammunition from his hand gun.
Troopers located Rodriguez inside the truck and located his firearm in plain view in the sleeper berth of his truck.
Rodriguez was taken into custody without incident and booked in the Warren County Jail. He has remained in jail since his arrest.
Rodriguez is scheduled for sentencing on August 12, 2022.