New Haven police arrested two men Thursday night and charged them with murder in connection with the fatal Oct. 12 shooting in the Dwight neighborhood. Police said they will also arrest three other men currently incarcerated on unrelated charges.
In court Friday, a judge arraigned Shante Little, 21, and Markese Kelly, 23, both of Hamden, on charges including murder, conspiracy to commit murder and assault in the first degree. Kelly was also charged with criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a New Haven superior court clerk said. The two men are each being held on $2 million bond.
Police said they will also charge Mashawn Greene, 31; Marquis Mitchell, 20; and Franki Jones, 22; with murder and related weapons offenses. The three men, all New Haven residents, are already incarcerated on unrelated charges, police said.
Dozens of shots rang out at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Orchard Street — less than half a mile from the Yale campus — and persisted for about 10 minutes, several Dwight residents said. Witnesses dragged one of the most seriously injured victims into the nearby Shop Smart store on Edgewood, but the hail of bullets continued until five people — including a 16-year-old girl — were injured and one man, 22-year-old John Thomas of Hamden, was dead.
Police said they believe the motive for the shooting stemmed from a dispute that occured at the Senor Pancho Mexican restaurant in New Haven two days before the altercation.
Little was arrested on South Genessee Street in New Haven Thursday evening after police received a tip on his whereabouts. Officers apprehended Kelly approximately three hours later in the Valley Street area near Mountain Street.
Kelly was also subsequently arrested on narcotics charges after the officers seized an undetermined amount of pre-packaged cocaine from him, police said.
The shooting has been a point of contention between Dwight residents and local politicians, specifically New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. While several Dwight residents, including former Ward 23 Alderwoman Joyce Poole, said the incident was certainly a byproduct of gang violence, DeStefano initially said he thought otherwise.
“Groups of people had a beef, and they brought it here,” DeStefano said at a public forum shortly after the shooting.
But he later said, “If you want to call them a gang, then I guess you could say it’s gang-related.”
DeStefano was out of town and was unavailable for comment. Also, neither NHPD or Hamden Police Department officials would comment on whether any of the five suspects was a known gang member.
Ward 2 Alderwoman Linda Townsend-Maier — who represents much of Dwight — praised Police Chief Melvin H. Wearing, who said shortly after the shooting that he would not rest until the perpetrators were put in prison.
“I was concerned that similar incidents might happen in the future if these people were not caught,” Townsend-Maier said. “It’s clear that Wearing and everyone at the NHPD was very committed to solving this case.”