Homicide suspect arrested

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The New Haven Police Department has handcuffed the individual they believe responsible for one of the city’s two most recent homicides, both of which claimed teenaged victims.

On April 17, NHPD officers cornered 18-year-old Jeffrey Covington on Poplar Street, concluding their approximately three-week long investigation into 17-year-old Taijhon Washington’s murder. Police suspected that Covington shot Washington and his 16-year-old half-brother Travon Washington, who survived the incident, late last month near the intersection of Lilac Street and Butler Street. Taijhon Washington became New Haven’s fifth homicide victim of 2014, but the total climbed to six just 10 days later when 16-year-old Torrence Gamble was shot in the Hill neighborhood.

“What we want all of you to know is that a young man of this dear family is a young man of this beloved city and that we all grieve together,” NHPD Chief Dean Esserman said at a Monday press conference held to announce the arrest. “We bring some answers to this family [with this arrest].”

Investigators have charged Covington with first-degree murder, first-degree assault, criminal use of a firearm, criminal possession of a firearm and carrying a pistol without a permit. He is being held under a $2 million bond.

Esserman and various NHPD officers in attendance were joined by six of Washington’s family members. Before the conference, they met privately with the chief in his office.

Esserman continued to emphasize the importance of solidarity for the city, even in the face of this month’s tragedies.

“We wear New Haven’s beloved name on our badge,” Esserman said. “We take our oath to New Haven, we serve New Haven.”

Asst. Chief Achilles Generoso said he was grateful for the opportunity to help bring justice to the family through this arrest. He also named Detective Chris Perrone and Detective Sergeant Robert Lawlor Jr. as two of the main officers involved in the investigation and congratulated them on the successful arrest.

Allegations by members of the community that both Washington brothers were involved in local gangs are still unconfirmed, Generoso added.

“I want to make it clear: the New Haven Police Department has not verified or confirmed that either of the young men that were shot were gang members,” he said.

Both Generoso and Esserman emphasized the contributions of those in the community and other police departments to the investigation. The arrest warrant affidavit filed by Perrone indicates that police also used information from social media sites such as Facebook to identify Covington.

Barbara Fair, the cousin of Taijhon Washington’s mother spoke on behalf of the family. She was insistent that neither Washington brother was in a gang, and called upon authorities to find ways to take guns off the streets.

“I’m relieved by this arrest, but it doesn’t close the hole in my cousin’s heart, not at all,” Fair said. “The chief has promised that we will get to the root of where all these guns are coming from.”

The Lilac St.-Butler St. intersection is located in front of Lincoln-Bassett School, a K-8 New Haven Public School.

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