“I’m Snuggles,” a gangbanger told a fellow inmate. “You cried like a little bitch when I shot you. The only reason you lived is I ran outta bullets.”
That alleged prison taunt eventually led a shooting victim to come forward with new information for police investigating a never-forgotten 2009 non-fatal shooting on Dixwell Avenue.
The conversation shows up in an affidavit for an arrest warrant the police served the other day. It enabled the police to keep “Snuggles” in jail right before he was scheduled to go free.
The arrest was the latest example of how a new shooting task force unit at the police department is catching up with lower-profile shooting that used to understandably get left unsolved as bigger cases—or ones with promising leads—demanded the attention of detectives. Click here for a recent story about the formation and work of that task force.
Police had run out of leads in the Dec. 6, 2009, shooting on Dixwell.
Someone shot an 18-year-old man twice that afternoon, once in the back, once in the abdomen. The victim told police he had no idea who shot him. The police had some evidence, including the bullets removed form his body. But the trail went cold. The case was assigned to the shooting task force.
The shooting victim eventually, in 2010, went to jail, when he had that chilling conversation with his alleged shooter, who was in jail on an unrelated crime.
The inmate who had been shot got in touch with the cops this January. Inspector Joe Howard of the shooting task force met with him on Jan. 14. The inmate told Howard he could identify his shooter.
Howard asked the man why he hadn’t cooperated before. The answer, according to Howard’s arrest warrant affidavit: “He assumed the shooter would be in jail for a long time regarding another matter and he didn’t see the sense in pursuing his complaint at the time. ... [Then] he was aware of Snuggles’ impending release and he was now willing to truthfully cooperate.”
The inmate told Howard that he was walking a bicycle alongside his aunt the day he got shot. They were headed to a grocery store. Near the intersection of Dixwell and Argyle two males approached them “on foot from the opposite direction.”
“Without warning or provocation, one of the pair bumped into him and kept walking behind him. ... [W]hen he turned to say something to the subject who had bumped him, the subject produced a revolver from his sleeve, pointed it at [him], and opened fire. ... [The victim] instinctively shoved his aunt out of the line of fire and ... became tangled in his bicycle and fell to the ground on his back. ... The shooter then stood over him while he was prostrate, pointed the gun at his head, and pulled the trigger. ... [T]he revolver failed to go off and he could hear only an audible ‘click.’ ... His assailant then fled the area on foot and he could hear the shooter laughing as he fled. ... [A]t the time of the shooting, the Dixwell Ave. area was congested with normal pedestrian and vehicular traffic, placing passersby in danger of being struck by any errant projectiles.”
According to the affidavit, the victim picked out his shooter from a photo array. State corrections records confirmed the two had been in jail at the same time; and that the alleged shooter had not been in jail at the time of the shooting. Family members confirmed that the victim had identified Snuggles as the shooter in conversations with them. Investigators also learned that Snuggles did not have a pistol permit. The task force obtained an arrest warrant charging Snuggles with first-degree assault and carrying a pistol without a permit.
Snuggles has been in trouble with the cops for years. He was convicted in 2010 for narcotics possession and illegal possession of a .32-caliber revolver. In 2011 he was arrested for intimidating a witness and carrying a dangerous weapon, both felonies. He as convicted of those crimes earlier this year. He was scheduled to be released within a month, according to Sgt. Jimmy Grasso (pictured), who heads the shooting task force. Snuggles was served over the past week during an unrelated appearance at the Elm Street courthouse. Now Snuggles will stay behind bars, and “the community’s safer,” Grasso said.