Man arrested in hit-and-run that killed girlfriend

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LEMON GROVE, Calif. — A Lemon Grove man who allegedly ran over his girlfriend with a rental SUV during an argument two months ago, killing her, is now behind bars.

Rontarieo Deshand Brown, 36, was taken into custody Monday at a Coronado hotel in connection with the death of 46-year-old Bernadette Castillo, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Officers responding to reports of a pedestrian accident on state Route 94 in Jamul found Castillo mortally injured in the street near Steele Canyon Road about 3:30 a.m. July 27.

The driver of the 2018 Ford Edge that struck the victim remained at the scene of the crash for several minutes, but fled prior to the arrival of law enforcement, CHP public-affairs Officer Travis Garrow said.

Two days later, authorities found the vehicle — identified by several surveillance cameras, including ones at businesses near the scene of the fatality — abandoned on Oakdale Avenue in El Cajon, Garrow said.

Investigators believe that Castillo and Brown, who had dated off and on for about 13 years, were embroiled in an argument while traveling in the SUV through the East County. The dispute escalated to the point that Brown pulled over on the eastbound side of SR-94, after which Castillo got out and began walking away to the west.

The suspect then put the vehicle into reverse — possibly intending to prevent Castillo from leaving — and allegedly backed it over the woman, Garrow said.

Brown was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of hit-and-run, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and assault with a deadly weapon. He was being held on $750,000 bail.

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