City sees 17th homicide

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Just two days after New Haven saw its 16th homicide of the year, a 21-year old Elm City resident was gunned down at the city’s Westville Manor Public Housing complex on Monday evening before succumbing to his injuries at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

At 6:18 p.m., New Haven Police Department officers were called to the 45 Wayfarer St. to respond to reports of gunfire and a shooting victim. They found Deran Maebery in front of the residence, shot. The victim was rushed to the hospital to have his gunshot wounds treated, but the medical staff was unable to save him.

At approximately 8:00 p.m., NHPD detectives arrested 20-year old New Haven resident Trey Mims for Maebery’s murder, but later found Mims to be innocent after conducting interviews and gathering additional evidence. By 11:20 p.m., Mims had been released from custody and cleared of any charges.

“We originally thought we had apprehended our suspect at the scene,” Department Chief Dean Esserman said at a Tuesday press conference held to recap the previous night’s events. “Detectives and neighborhood community officers worked throughout the night. When we first took him into custody, we realized, after long interviews, that we had the wrong person.”

A press release issued by the NHPD after the shooting but before Mims’ release said that Westville Manor residents were cooperative with officers at the scene, and it was their input, in part, that led NHPD authorities to seek and bring Mims in from a nearby apartment. Investigators are looking into any possible connections between the incident, its perpetrator and reports of a skirmish at the complex that took place before the shooting.

“Although no motive has been established in this senseless crime, Detectives are investigating an earlier dispute that had taken place in [the] same location,” Department spokesman David Hartman said in the press release. “This is not to suggest the victim had been involved in that dispute.”

Esserman said that NHPD officers continue to search for the true suspect behind Monday night’s homicide.

Maebery is the city’s 17th homicide victim of 2013 and the third in three weeks. Erica Robinson, a 26-year old West Haven resident, was killed on Saturday at the Key Club Cabaret on Saint John Street. Nathaniel Bradley of Hamden was shot and killed less than two miles from Yale’s campus on Oct. 16.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Esserman announced that police had issued a warrant for the arrest of Adrian Bennett, the 28-year old New Haven resident now suspected of murdering Robinson and shooting five others at the local adult entertainment club early Saturday morning.

“We have been tracking [Bennett] since Saturday,” Esserman said. “Today I ask him to turn himself in, to surrender to New Haven Police for the safety of this community and, in fact, for his own safety.”

Esserman added that FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, state authorities and various local citizens have assisted NHPD detectives in efforts to identify and find Bennett.

Also speaking at the press conference was Mayor John DeStefano, who discussed six pieces of proposed legislation to increase the city government’s power over local entertainment venues in an effort to complement ongoing police efforts to increase public safety at Elm City bars and nightclubs. DeStefano’s proposals included stricter liquor licenses on bars and licensing and training programs for club security guards. DeStefano is also seeking injunction to have the power to shut down bars for public safety reasons.

“As I look at homicides, look at shootings, shots reported — they’re all heading in the right direction, down by substantial margins [in the last two years,]” Destefano said. “I wish I could promise or see a day that there’s going to be no violence in this city. I don’t see that day right now.”

The 2013 New Haven homicide count has already matched the total of 17 committed in all of 2012.

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