A shooting left two men dead and one in the hospital Saturday night.
The double homicide marks New Haven’s second and third murders of the year, breaking the relative calm since a Jan. 11 shooting that killed a Hamden man.
The shooting occurred at 24 Front St. in the south eastern corner of Fair Haven at approximately 9:30 p.m., New Haven Police Department Spokesman Joseph Avery said in a press release. The three men were victims of an “ongoing dispute” and were most likely targeted specifically, Avery said. He added that the homicide investigation has already made significant progress.
But the double homicide presents a new challenge for the Major Crimes Unit, which has had a recent record of solving more murders. NHPD detectives have already arrested and charged one man with murder in connection with 2011’s first homicide. They have made arrests this month in connection with an April 2010 murder.
On Saturday night, NHPD officers located the two homicide victims, New Haven residents Michael Fernandez, 32, and Marquis Sumler, 25, outside of 24 Front St. after receiving a report of the shooting, Avery said. The police found that both men had been shot in the chest and took them to area hospitals. They died from their injuries soon thereafter.
Officers discovered a third man, identified as Samuel Maebry, three blocks away at 95 Poplar St. Maebry was suffering from gunshot wounds in his abdomen and leg, but refused to give any information to the police, Avery said.
Detectives from the Major Crimes Unit responded and began an investigation.
Avery said that the detectives determined that all three men were shot inside 24 Front Street because of an “ongoing dispute.” He added that detectives have already made significant progress in their investigation, but the department is withholding many details because of the ongoing investigation.
Despite the lack of public details, the NHPD has said that the homicides were most likely related to drug dealing.
“The residence located at 24 Front St. is characterized by redundant drug dealing and habitual drug use,” Avery said, adding that the location has previous been targeted in drug investigations by the NHPD Tactical Narcotics Unit.
In an interview earlier this month, NHPD Chief Frank Limon told the News that he considers gangs and drug trafficking to be an interconnected problem and one of the single biggest challenges for law enforcement in the city. He said the NHPD is targeting specific “hot spots” around the Newhallville and Dixwell communities as well as the Hill near Yale-New Haven Hospital.
After the announcement of 2010’s 85 percent murder rate increase, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said that the NHPD is seeking to affect overall street crime by increasing its clearance rate, or number of closed cases, into homicide investigations.
Between May 2009 and May 2010, the investigations department only cleared 10 percent — two of 20 — of its murder investigations. The clearance rate went up to 55 percent between May and the end of the year. DeStefano said the increase represents a “pattern of professional development.”
Eleven of last year’s 24 homicides, representing 46 percent of the 2010 total, occurred within the first four months of the year.