Who is Carlos Dominguez? Suspected Davis killer grew up in Oakland, football team captain
Before Carlos Reales Dominguez became a student at UC Davis — and long before his arrest earlier this week on suspicion of stabbing three people — he was a high school athlete, a standout student and a leader among his peers.
So the news that the 21-year-old was accused of killing David Henry Breaux and Karim Abou Najm and attempting to kill Kimberlee Guillory, left past teammates and friends in a state of shock. They wonder: How is the Reales Dominguez they knew a suspected killer?
“I don’t know how that city or school would change you,” Derek Cardenas, a former football teammate, said on Friday.
Cardenas played alongside Reales Dominguez for two years at Castlemont High School in East Oakland, one of the city’s poorest, predominately Black and Latino neighborhoods known for its high number of homicides. Until recently, the school would often struggle to field a football team due to low enrollment.
But Reales Dominguez, according to past teammates and school officials, shone. He aspired to a medical career and was committed to the Castlemont Knights football team. He wore number 32 and played multiple positions — strong safety, cornerback and slot receiver.
“Castlemont means a lot to me because we’re like a family,” said Reales Dominguez, in a team Instagram video posted in May of 2017. “We go through stuff together and finish stuff together.”
Reales Dominguez was born in El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America, once known as the world’s murder capital — with one of the highest homicide rates. He is half Puerto Rican, according to a personal presentation found online by searching for his name.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said Reales Dominguez came to the United States in April 2009 as an unaccompanied minor. He was later transferred to a family member. Immigration officials plan to detain Reales Dominguez should he be released from the Yolo County jail.
According to his social media, Reales Dominguez spent many of his formative years in Oakland and eventually made his way to Castlemont. At the school, he enjoyed math and science classes, while dreaming of becoming a doctor to help people like his grandmother.
“I got into health care to help my grandmother — she has type 2 diabetes,” Reales Dominguez stated, in a since-deleted post on Oakland Story Bank, an organization aimed at uplifting youth. “It makes me happy and it makes her happy, and I just love seeing her smile.”
Reales Dominguez played football and ran track at Castlemont, where he made friends with other student athletes and became a team leader.
In a May 2017 team video on Instagram, Reales Dominguez described his goals for the team that season — winning the district championship and getting an invitation to the state tournament. He also longed for personal growth, which continues to be a focus for coaches of the Castlemont football program.
“Another goal is to become a better person in life, build better character and grow mentally tough,” he said.
When Joshua Jones joined the football team in 2018, he recalled coaches speaking highly of Reales Dominguez’s character and play on the field. At that time, Jones said, the team had low numbers and didn’t win much.
“He wasn’t the biggest or fastest football player,” said Jones, now 20. “But he played his part. He was really committed.”
Another former teammate, Kevin Lewis, called Reales Dominguez a “big brother” type, someone younger players want to emulate. Lewis, 18, was a freshman during Reales Dominguez’s senior year.
“He was dedicated, so we wanted to move like he moved,” Lewis said.
In January 2019, the team praised him online for making the honor roll. The following year, he was named team captain.
“Carlos was a great student at Castlemont,” the school’s Athletic Director Phillip Jones Jr. said Thursday, shortly after the arrest was announced.
Former Castlemont football coaches declined interview requests.
Cardenas, 19, also met Reales Dominguez in 2018. Reales Dominguez had already spent two years playing on the football team with Cardenas’ older brother. The two quickly became friends, spending the next two years cracking jokes at each other’s expense.
“We were together every day, at practice, in the weight room,” Cardenas said. “We were just close.”
That changed after Reales Dominguez graduated from Castlemont in 2020, according to Cardenas. He said Reales Dominguez did not stay in contact, never came back to Oakland to visit and hardly posted on social media.
Reales Dominguez enrolled at UC Davis in the fall of 2020. A biological science major, he was a student at the school until April 25 when he was “separated for academic reasons.”
Jones recalled Reales Dominguez leaving Castlemont with huge aspirations, trying to make his family proud. Though Jones hadn’t kept in contact with Reales Dominguez, he envisioned his former team captain fulfilling those dreams.