The public did what cops always urge them to do—and thereby helped police arrest an alleged killer within hours of a crime.
That was the message Tuesday from top cops.
“It was unprecedented how the community responded,” Assistant Police Chief Archie Generoso said at a 3:40 p.m. press conference at police headquarters, thanking the public. “It showed what’s possible.”
Generoso (pictured at the scene Monday night with Assistant Chief Luiz Casanova, at right) was referring to the arrest of an 18-year-old man for allegedly shooting 58-year-old Donald Bradley to death behind a Burger King at 7:21 p.m. Monday. Because so many people came forward to help the cops—witnesses at the scene, phone callers, family members—the police were able to act fast and solve the case, he said. (Read a detailed account of the evening here.)
Generoso was also referring to the years-long quest by police to convince members of the public to come forward with information about crimes, to trust the cops. He suggested that the latest instance might represent the turning of a corner.
“People cooperated with us, I would like to believe, because of the way we’re doing business now in the city,” Generoso said.
Three teens had called Bradley Monday night to ask for a ride across town to Fair Haven. Bradley regularly gave them rides for money, according to police.
They stopped by the drive-thru at Burger King. Bradley then recognized an 18-year-old in the car as someone with whom he had had a previous argument, according to police. He wanted the teen to leave. An argument ensued. It ended up outside the car, with the 18-year-old firing four or five bullets, including a deadly blow to the chest, police said.
The teens then fled.
When police arrived, patrol officers quickly sealed off the scene—and spoke to witnesses who offered crucial information: that two of the teens had run to a house around the corner on Orchard. So officers quickly surrounded that building and sealed it off.
Other members of the public provided information about the shooting and about the teens. An uncle and father of one of the teens, and the grandmother of another, cooperated with police at the scene. They gave cops information that SWAT negotiator David Hartman used as he spoke with the teens via bullhorn.
Generoso and Chief Dean Esserman Tuesday repeatedly praised the work of various cops, as well: the patrol officers who acted fast, the detectives who developed evidence fast, the cops who used “remarkable restraint,” in Esserman’s words, by waiting hours to convince the teens to come out peacefully rather than storming the house.
And several cops, including victim-services Officer Jillian Knox, succeeded at the scene in consoling upset family members and keeping the tense scene calm.
Eventually the two teens emerged from the house and surrendered. Police charged one of them, an 18-year-old, with murder and interfering with police. He made an appearance Tuesday afternoon in the state Superior Court on Elm Street, where his case was transferred to the Church Street court and continued until Aug. 7.
The other teen who had been in the house, a 16-year-old, was charged with interfering.
And the third man who had been present in the car turned himself in for questioning shortly before Tuesday afternoon’s press conference. He had not fled to the house with the other two teens Monday night. Generoso said at this point he’s being considered a witness, not an offender.
After the teens’ surrender, police obtained a warrant to search the house on Orchard. They recovered a .38-caliber Colt revolver used in the murder, according to Generoso. He said police hadn’t yet determined if the 18-year-old legally owned the weapon.