He followed a target into the “rich white kids’” house. He had a gun; he figured he’d “jook” the kid. He was startled to find six people inside—and shot one of them in the chest.
That picture emerged Wednesday of how, and why, a 19-year-old New Haven felon allegedly shot a popular local cycling, vegan, and underground music enthusiast to death in a botched Newhallville robbery last year.
The picture emerged from an arrest warrant affidavit publicly released Wednesday. The warrant was for the arrest of 19-year-old Tashaun Fair. It describes the police version of Fair’s alleged murder of 23-year-old Mitchell Dubey on March 24, 2011. Police identified Fair as a suspect early on the case. But it took 17 months—and a final break this past weekend—to compile enough evidence to obtain a warrant. Police arrested Fair Tuesday evening and charged him with felony murder, home invasion, robbery, carrying a pistol without a permit, and first-degree reckless endangerment. Fair appeared Wednesday in court, where his case as continued. He remains incarcerated; the judge set his bond at $3 million.
Fair didn’t speak in court Wednesday. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, he denied committing the murder. His mom backed up his alibi.
Wednesday afternoon, Dubey’s former roomates and his coworkers and friends from Devil’s Gear Bike Shop joined top cops at a police department press conference about the arrest. Devil’s Gear owner Matt Feiner spoke on behalf of Dubey’s parents, who live in California. (Click on the play arrow at the top of his story to watch some of his remarks.) Feiner thanked the cops, including lead Detective Wayne Bullock, as well as the assembled friends.
“Today a little bit of justice for Mitchell, a little bit of peace for everybody.” Feiner said, choking back tears. Afterwards, the 16 assembled friends hugged (pictured) and met privately with police officials.
Speaking by phone from California, Dubey’s mother, Randi Dubey, expressed appreciation for the arrest—but not a sense of closure or relief.
“It doesn’t mean anything to me except that it’s one less scumbag” on the street, she said between tears. “I’m glad for anyone else [who might have otherwise encountered the suspect.]. In a way I was hoping they would find him not alive, so they wouldn’t have to waste money [on the case]. Hopefully he will get what he deserves.”
From the start, police made it clear that Dubey was a wholly innocent victim in the case, that the killer had come to the house to commit a robbery, then fatally fired at Dubey’s chest after Dubey pleaded, “Dude, just put down the gun.”
The arrest warrant affidavit released Wednesday fills in some of the alleged narrative blanks. It’s based on interviews police did with multiple people whom they eventually convinced, after repeated tracking down and requests, to come forward with information.
Dubey was at his blue Bassett Street shared living space with his roommates and some out-of-town guests at 10 p.m. that Thursday, March 24, 2011. They were seated in the dining room.
Fair allegedly said he went to the house to “jook” (or rob) the occupants. He said he knew that “rich white kids” lived there, according to the affidavit. He would “often times [see] them out in front.” The house is on a low-income, foreclosure-battered stretch of the Newhallville neighborhood, a predominantly black neighborhood.
Fair allegedly saw a “fat white male” walk into the house. So he then “walked up and knocked on the front door.”
Dubey (who was skinny) answered it. Fair allegedly told him “back up.” Fair “had not expected there to be six people in the house.”
“When he walked in, he got scared because there were more people in the house than he thought,” according to the affidavit.
Fair, who had a mask on his face, allegedly told Dubey to “back up” and sit on the couch. Dubey “began to walk towards him, so he shot him,” the affidavit alleges. “Then [he] ran out of the house.”
Fair told police a different story when they interviewed him at the station on July 24, 2011.
“On the night of the homicide,” he told the cops, according to the affidavit, “he was in his bedroom, playing video games when his mother ... walked in his room and asked him if he heard any gunshots. They both looked out the window and saw the police in the area.”
The police then visited Fair’s mother. She told them “that she came home from work at around 8:00 p.m. [the night of the homicide] and Tashaun was home. At the time of the homicide, she said that Tashaun came into her room and asked her what was going on,” not exactly what her son allegedly told police.
Fair’s mother showed up in state Superior Court Wednesday for Fair’s appearance before Judge Bruce Thompson. The mother did not wish to speak with reporters.
Fair’s aunt, community activist Barbara Fair, was in court too.
“Right now we’re just devastated,” Barbara Fair said after the brief proceedings. “He’s charged, not convicted. We’re going to be here to support him. He’s a really, really great kid.”
Judge Thompson set Tashaun Fair’s bond at $3 million Wednesday and transferred the case to the Church Street courthouse, where Fair is scheduled to appear again on Sept. 18.
Fair (second from left in above picture) showed up in court wearing a Champion sweatshirt, camouflage shorts, and shackled Nike sneakers. He did not speak during his brief appearance.
Both his public defender, Shep Sherwood, and the prosecutor, Joseph LaMotta, suggested to the judge that he keep the bail at $3 million.
At the time of his arrest Tuesday, Fair was out on probation stemming from a 2011 felony robbery conviction. He also has a third-degree criminal trespass case pending. New Haven Detective Sgt. Otoniel Reyes (at center in above photo, at Wednesday’s press conference), head of the Major Crimes Unit, caught up with Fair and arrested him on Winchester Avenue at around 7 p.m. Tuesday. Reyes oversaw the work of the lead detective, Bullock (at right in photo; Assistant Chief Luiz Casanova is at left). They worked alongside retired New Haven cop Robert Lawlor, who’s now an inspector with the state’s attorney’s office.
Assistant Police Chief Archie Generoso praised the team for keeping with the case for 17 months.
“This isn’t CSI New York or CSI Miami. This is real life. We’re going to be sure we’re going to arrest the right person” before making an arrest, Generoso said after Wednesday’s press conference. That moment came when the cops “caught a break” in the investigation this past weekend, he said.
Dubey’s murder shocked the city and provoked grief—and prompted supportive gatherings and musical fundraisers for his family—across the country.
Dubey was a beloved fixture in New Haven’s active bicycling scene, a friendly face and dependable staffer at the Devil’s Gear Bike Shop. He also played in the Flaming Tsunamis and other bands. He and his roommates hosted house concerts in their Bassett Street home. Pictured below is a poster quoting some of his life philosophy; it was displayed at the police press conference.