By Kevin Deutsch
The former principal of Somerset Parkland Academy has been charged with multiple crimes in the guns scandal that roiled the school earlier this year.
Geyler Castro, who administrators reassigned from her position in August, illegally brought two guns and ammunition magazines into the school on June 2, then lied to investigators about the crime, court records allege.
Castro, 39, failed to tell Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies she brought the guns and ammo onto school grounds. Instead, the educator told deputies it must have been the school staff members who unloaded her car who mistakenly brought the items inside.
Bringing guns illegally onto school grounds is a felony-level crime under state law.
After reviewing nearly three weeks of surveillance video, “detectives could not locate anyone besides Castro entering or exiting her vehicle” in the school parking lot, according to an arrest affidavit filed by the Broward County State Attorney’s office on Sept. 7.
Castro, of Miramar, is charged with two counts of possessing a firearm on school property and one count of culpable negligence.
The educator has a legal concealed carry permit, which automatically reduces the possession charges from felonies to misdemeanors, according to the affidavit.
Castro has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The morning of the crime, the two firearms were concealed in a pouch-type bag and discovered by the school’s activities director, Kaitlene Alonso, inside school conference room 100C at the academy at 8401 N. University Dr.
The weapons were a black Beretta 380 Cal semi-automatic pistol and a silver Jimenez Arms 380 Cal semi-automatic pistol. Two loaded ammunition magazines were also found.
“There was no lock on the pouch and no trigger lock on the firearms,” detectives wrote in the arrest affidavit. “The firearms were easily reached and accessed by entering an unlocked door and unzipping the zipper on the pouch.”
Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Krizia Somaza, the school resource officer at Somerset Parkland Academy, spoke with multiple school staff members, administrators, and Castro, “who advised that one of the firearms belonged to her and the other one was her father’s, Gil Suarez.”
Gil Suarez is the ex-husband of Odalys Suarez, a school staff member who was also working at the school that day, records show.
Castro told Somaza she had “put both firearms in her vehicle and was trying to take them to the post office to be secured in a safety box.”
“She had boxes in her vehicle with graduation supplies, which different staff members helped unload from her vehicle,” an incident report states. “Mrs. Castro is unsure if a staff member accidentally brought the firearm(s) into the school in a box while unloading the graduation supplies.”
According to the arrest affidavit, Castro “spontaneously admitted the firearms were hers.”
She told Somaza she “had her father’s firearm[s] for a couple of years and claimed she put the firearms in her vehicle to bring them to the post office to put in a ‘safety deposit box.’
“Castro does not remember when she put the firearms in her vehicle and did not know how they got inside the school,” investigators wrote after speaking with the then-principal.
Castro was issued a criminal summons in the case on Sept. 12, court records show. A criminal summons has the same legal function as an arrest.
The guns case has had an impact well beyond school grounds.
Eleven days after the firearms were found, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony fired Captain Craig Calavetta, the BSO Parkland District Chief, saying Calavetta had “deliberately” provided “false information to administration.”
Tony did not say whether the false information concerned the firearms investigation at the school.
Documents filed in Castro’s case to this point do not shed any additional light on Calavetta’s actions during the investigation.
- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.