Key Club shooter arrested

Adrian Bennett was identified as the perpetrator of the Oct. 26 shooting
at the Key Club Cabaret.
Adrian Bennett was identified as the perpetrator of the Oct. 26 shooting at the Key Club Cabaret. Photo by NHPD.

The man suspected to be behind one of the Elm City’s largest 2013 shootings was arrested by the New Haven Police Department on Tuesday.

In the early morning hours of Oct. 26, shots rang out at the Key Club Cabaret on St. Johns place, leaving one woman, 26-year-old Erica Robinson, dead and five others wounded. Three days later, the NHPD announced that it had secured a warrant for the arrest of Adrian “Bread” Bennett. Tuesday afternoon, NHPD officers, with the assistance of agents from the United States Marshals Task Force, took Bennett into custody without incident at a home in Hartford.

“We are here today to show our dignity and respect for this beautiful family,” NHPD Chief Dean Esserman said at a Wednesday morning press conference, referring to Robinson’s family. “This search has gone a thousand miles for days on end and nights on end to make this apprehension.”

In his opening remarks, Esserman acknowledged the partnership between the NHPD and other organizations like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and State Police, in addition to the U.S. Marshals, in solving this case. Among those present at the NHPD’s Union Avenue office for the press conference were members of the victim’s family and Mayor-elect Toni Harp ARC ’78.

Also present were Detective-Sergeants Al Vazquez and Tony Reyes, two of the lead investigators on the case, who Esserman praised for their passion in working “as if it was their own daughter that they lost.”

Vazquez recapped the events of the shooting, beginning with the initial NHPD dispatch to the club at around 3:31 a.m. When officers arrived at the scene, they found three gunshot victims in critical condition. Soon thereafter, Robinson succumbed to her injuries, despite “intense, life-saving measures” attempted by doctors at Yale-New Haven hospital, Vazquez said.

Vazquez also said that the FBI played an important role in the investigation’s evidence recovery and analysis operations. The video surveillance footage obtained from the club’s systems was critical in investigators’ ability to identify Bennett as the suspect about eight hours after the incident, Vazquez added. The resulting warrant charged Bennett with murder, five counts of first-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon, setting a bail of $3 million.

“As a result of this warrant, locations were put under surveillance in hopes of finding Adrian Bennett,” Vazquez said. “We could not find [him] at the common locations. It was very apparent to us at this time that Adrian Bennett was running and had become a fugitive from justice.”

Over the following two weeks, investigators interviewed sources and staked out locations in order to track Bennett down. Ultimately, officials stationed outside the eventual scene of the arrest identified Bennett as he entered the Hartford house.

Bennett was brought back to New Haven and did not speak with investigators after asking for his lawyer, Vazquez said. On Wednesday morning, Bennett was arraigned in the Superior Court on Church Street. NHPD Officer Shafiq Abdussabur, a relative of Robinson, read a statement on behalf of the victim’s family to close the press conference.

“Today, we find comfort and relief that the person responsible for [Robinson’s] tragic death has been arrested,” Abdussabur read. “People who commit such horrific acts of violence against innocent people in our society should be met with the full brunt of the law.”

The Key Club Cabaret closed indefinitely after the shooting per a voluntary suspension request filed with the state’s Department of Consumer Protection.

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