Ex-wife describes gunman's anger in Calif shooting

AP News
Posted: Dec 30, 2009 1:03 PM

Donnell Roberts, who killed his former boss and himself outside a Southern California casino, was an angry person with a tragic childhood who had a history of threatening people, his ex-wife said.

Maria Small, 35, who was married to Roberts for 13 years, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he was sometimes violent toward her. She said he once slashed the car tires of a former boss who fired him.

"He said he wanted to kill him," Small said. "I was like, what the heck are you talking about?"

Authorities said Roberts, 38, fatally shot Raymundo Castillas, 43, the head of the Barona Gaming Commission, in the manager's office Tuesday. Roberts was fired in November as an investigator with the commission. He previously was a security guard for the nearby Barona Casino and Resort.

Roberts was a former Marine and the son of a police officer who committed suicide when Roberts was a boy, said Small, who has remarried and lives in Racine, Wis.

She said she last talked to him at Christmas.

"He told me, `I lost my job, but I have something in the works,'" she said. "I didn't know what that meant."

Small has custody of a 12-year-old daughter she had with Roberts. She said Roberts had six other children and had to file for bankruptcy in 2003 because he was having trouble paying child support to the other mothers.

Small, an 18-year Navy veteran, told the newspaper she met Roberts in 1993 when he was in the Marine Corps. He was discharged in 1994 after serving in the Persian Gulf War, and they moved to San Diego County in 1996.

His temper contributed to their divorce in 2006, Small said.

"He was always angry," Small said. "It was more of a sadness. He was never happy with anything _ never.

Small said her ex-husband's father committed suicide when Roberts was 10. His father was a police officer in Cambridge, Md., at the time, she said.

Around 10 a.m. Tuesday, Roberts drove his red pickup truck to the casino complex and headed to Castillas' office, ordering three secretaries to leave, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore told reporters.

Casino general manager Rick Salinas told The Associated Press another 13 to 15 employees fled through a back door, then witnesses heard three gunshots.

Roberts, of El Cajon, Calif., was fired in November as an investigator with the commission and worked previously as a security guard for the casino.

Sheriff's deputies and California Highway Patrol officers surrounded the gaming commission building, located behind the casino. The wait ended after two robots captured images of the bodies.

Authorities never established contact with Roberts, Gore said.

The casino in the east San Diego suburb remained open throughout the ordeal but a parking garage and day-care center were closed, Salinas said.

Salinas said he didn't know why Roberts was fired from the commission, which functions as the regulator of the tribe's casino. He was one of about three investigators working for the commission, which has 30 to 40 employees.

"He was a professional, he did his job, and from my understanding he did it well," Salinas said.

Gore said the employees he spoke with were "very distraught."

"It's been a very traumatic day for all of them, I'm sure," he said.

The resort, which includes a 400-room hotel, golf course and spa, is operated by the Barona Band of Mission Indians and employs about 3,000 people.

The tribe bought the reservation property in 1932 after its original reservation land was used to build a reservoir. Tribal gaming began there in 1994 with the opening of the Barona Casino Big Top.


Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune.