Man Murdered At Market. 2011 Case Solved

Thomas MacMillan PhotoOn the same day police announced they’d solved an old murder, a new one occurred.

Someone shot a 55-year-old clerk to death at the Orchard Market Tuesday morning. On Tuesday afternoon, police announced the arrest of a man for the 2011 killing of 23-year-old Kahson Douglas.

Case Opened

Police received the report of a man shot at around 10:50 a.m. Tuesday.

The victim, Abdul L. Rawas, 55, was shot to death in the market at Orchard and Henry streets, two blocks from Hillhouse High School.

Here’s an initial picture emerging from the incident:

Rawas was working as a clerk in the store when a man came in, brandished a gun, and demanded money.

Instead of giving him the money, the clerk got into a “tussle” with the gunman, according to one person familiar with the still-nascent investigation. At that point the robber apparently shot the clerk.

The clerk ran outside. The robber went behind the counter and opened the register.

It is believed that the clerk then ran back into the store. The robber shot him again at that point, then fled the scene.

He robber remained at large as of 4 p.m. Tuesday. Police did have leads they were pursuing.

The victim was shot in the back and in the arm.

After police arrived at the scene, the victim was transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he was subsequently pronounced dead.

It was New Haven’s first homicide of 2013.

Police released the following photos of the suspected shooter:

Case Closed

Police Tuesday afternoon announced an arrest in the 2011 killing of 23-year-old Kahson Douglas. He was shot and killed on Edward Street at 3:40 p.m. on Oct. 28, 2011.

“Today we bring justice to this family,” said Chief Dean Esserman (pictured) at press conference on the third floor of police headquarters.

Assistant Chief Archie Generoso said that the case was closed by lead Detective Elisa Tuozzoli, a 15-year veteran of the force, who was approved for a promotion to sergeant later Tuesday evening.

Police developed a suspect early in the investigation, a man who is now 22 years old. After working the case for more than a year, police had a break in the case in the last two weeks that allowed them to secure a warrant for the 22-year-old. Sgt. Tony Reyes said police couldn’t disclose the nature of the new information that allowed them to close the case.

A judge signed a warrant on Monday. Police made the arrest the same day, at the 22-year-old’s home on Dayton Street.

Thomas MacMillan PhotoDouglas’ aunt (pictured) and mom spoke tearfully at the press conference.

Yvonne Heard (pictured), Douglas’ mother, said her son was her best friend.

“It just hurts so bad,” she said.

She spoke directly to people committing gun violence in the city. Killings don’t really hurt the people who are killed, they hurt the family who is left to grieve, she said. “You don’t know. You guys don’t know what you’re doing to people.”

The 22-year-old who was arrested is a convicted felon on narcotics charges. He was the victim of a shooting on on June 13, 2011 on Phillip Street. He refused to cooperate with police on that investigation.

The man was charged with with manslaughter in the first degree, criminal use of a firearm, criminal possession of a firearm, unlawful discharge of a firearm and carrying a pistol without a permit.

Family members hugged Detective Tuozzoli after the press conference.

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posted by: PH on January 22, 2013  5:23pm

My heart goes out to the man’s family. What a horrible crime, in broad daylight, on a weekday.

I hope there is high-resolution footage of the incident.  Any owner of a store on Orchard Street should be required to have every corner of the store covered with cameras to deter crime and prosecute criminals.  Do any stores on Orchard NOT get robbed annually or more often?

posted by: William Kurtz on January 22, 2013  5:47pm

This, of course, is the real public health and quality of life cost of our national fetishizing of guns—the diabetes, if you will, compared to the Ebola virus of Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, Fort Hood, Columbine, etc., etc., etc.

The gun “enthusiasts”, “patriots”, and defenders of “liberty” are no doubt thinking right now that this gun was purchased and owned illegally. They’re probably right. But at some point in its existence, the gun used to kill this poor man doing his job in broad daylight was inside the legal supply chain. At what point did it leave? How can those gaps be filled?

One obvious method is to make the costs, both financial and regulatory, of owning a gun onerous enough that responsible firearms owners will take exceptional care of the weapons in their possession (i.e., no more dropping them in movie theaters) and resist the temptation to own massive arsenals that they can’t keep track of.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on January 22, 2013  8:15pm

Like meth, if they ban it people simply will make their own:

posted by: matt325c on January 22, 2013  8:38pm

Gun control is a controversial topic, and one that is not likely to get people on opposite sides of the debate to agree.

We all feel bad for the victim of this murder, but blaming legal gun owners for this is ludicrous.  You want to blame someone for being the victim of a crime when they had their gun stolen?  It is time to enforce the existing gun laws before we start making more.  We need to focus our attention on laws that can work, like keeping guns out of the hands of felons, keeping them out of the hands of people with mental health issues, and stopping “straw purchases”.  Banning “assault weapons”, banning high capacity magazines,  and the other ideas which have come up in this debate are only going to hurt the gun owners who abide by the law and do not commit crimes to begin with.

posted by: William Kurtz on January 22, 2013  9:03pm

But of course the NRA fights any and all attempts by state or federal governments to exert any regulatory control at all—even going so far as to threaten to sue Tucson<ahref=“”>to prevent turned-in guns from being destroyed</a> so they could instead be “put back into circulation or given away”.

posted by: matt325c on January 22, 2013  10:56pm

I am not in agreement with everything the NRA does, as clearly they make some bad arguments at the wrong time.  I am in favor of cutting down the violence in our society ( not just gun violence), and to do that we need to attack the problem- felons with guns, straw purchases, and people with serious mental health issues getting their hands on guns and other weapons.  None of the proposals I have seen would address these issues.  The answers that the Democrats have is to punish law abiding gun owners who are their political opponents.

The laws need to be strengthened around mandatory sentences for felons with guns and people carrying them illegally If there was a mandatory 15 year sentence for possession of a handgun by a felon, would they be so quick to carry one?  Also, mandatory sentences for violent criminals with no parole. These would cut down on gun more than restricting the rights of a law abiding citizen who wants to own a high capacity pistol for defense of himself/herself and their family.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on January 23, 2013  7:44am

Quick reference to federal firearm laws: Of course, such laws make no difference to those who use weapons to commit crimes—since the crimes (robbery, etc.) are likewise illegal.

posted by: William Kurtz on January 23, 2013  7:45am

“You want to blame someone for being the victim of a crime when they had their gun stolen?”

The short answer is, ‘Probably. It depends on the circumstances.’ With great power comes great responsibility, as we all learned watching Spiderman, and the most power most individuals can hope to wield is to carry around in a pocket the power to kill another human at a distance. If owning guns is, in the view of gun enthusiasts, an inalienable sacred right, then safeguarding them is a sacred responsibility.

How was the gun stolen? If it was stolen while on the owner’s person, that seems to belie the myth that guns are an effective form of personal defense. If stolen from the home or the car, why are they left unattended and inadequately secured?

Perhaps the law should be that if you own a gun, you must have it on your person at all times, without exception.

Too many people want the fantasy identity that goes along with having a gun, but don’t want to accept the attendant responsibility. Their right to indulge that fantasy is in direct conflict with other people’s safety.

So I guess, yes. I blame that gun’s last stop in the legal supply chain in part for the murder of Mr. Rawas. Whether it was stolen from an irresponsible owner or sold by a disreputable dealer, someone failed to keep it off the street. It’s possible it was sold legitimately to a straw buyer in which case I blame the NRA for continually opposing any kind of registry that would make it possible to trace it.

Food for thought:

Google search: gun stolen from car

This one is particularly disturbing.

Guns at home aren’t much safer.

posted by: HhE on January 23, 2013  10:28am

Why is it that every-time something that really sucks like this happens, it devolves into a “debate” on gun control?  (I say “debate” because it is really just an exchange of talking points.)  A man was murdered yesterday, not because he was In The Game, but because someone valued some cash over the life of another. 

Allow me to extend my sympathies to his family and friends.  I am deeply sorry you lost a love-one.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on January 23, 2013  11:35am

Thank you, William Kurtz, for your thoughtful comments.

And condolences to ALL the victims.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on January 23, 2013  12:27pm

I’m with Hhe. Really curious to hear how folks think we can solve this problem locally outside of changing federal gun laws in either direction.  This is a problem that we are all ultimately responsible for in New Haven.

What can we do today to take back the streets from the small minority who are creating violence in our communities?

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on January 23, 2013  1:12pm

There are multiple problems that contribute to crime, so there’s no single solution, e.g. disintegration of family, pop culture of violence, increasing social isolation (ironically in parallel to increasing digital connectedness), disappearance of “objective moral standard” (or growing disagreement about what that even means), joblessness, deficient education system, criminal justice system that focuses on retribution (“justice”) rather than rehabilitation. Police really are only effective after-the-fact of a crime. So where does one begin? I can’t agree that “This is a problem that we are all ultimately responsible for in New Haven.” However, we all CAN help fix a small piece of one or more of the contributing issues I’ve listed above (or those I didn’t think of at the moment).  Find just one item that catches your interest and start there in whatever tiny way works for you. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  - Anne Frank

posted by: Truth Avenger on January 23, 2013  1:56pm

Chris Schaefer is correct in ascribing gun violence causality to a plethora of reasons and conditions. Poverty, lack of employment, the culture of violence worship, are certainly contributing factors, but I refuse to believe that tighter controls will not help stem the carnage and mayhem that too many guns facilitate.  Those that wish to hide behind the second amendment need to understand that the day when the second amendment will be reconfigured to serve the needs of our modern society is coming.  What will be their justification for the free-for-all in gun ownership that rules the day presently? We may never be able to rein in the bad elements of human nature, but we can certainly rein in the weapons that make incidents of gun violence all too common.  We need to start with Assault type and semi-automatic long guns and work from there.  Please read this heart-rending account of a Newtown parent that had to cope with the reality of her son’s bullet riddled body even as he lay in his coffin. Let us hear what she thinks of this gun debate:

posted by: HhE on January 23, 2013  11:38pm

Truth Avenger, your comment sound like part of a NRA recruiting add/fundraising letter. 

I do not own any guns, but I know some people who do, so I have some understanding of “gun culture,” and it is NOT what the media tells you.  Whatever I may think about guns and gun control, I know there are so many guns already out there, that to produce a measurable or noticeable change—not a decisive change—would require confiscation.  Long before that happened, the political push back would be of great cost. 

I am a strait male, but I care about gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose and have access to birth control.  Living in a blue city, in what is probably the bluest county of a blue state, surrounded by other blue states, it is easy to lose sight of this, but not all of America is down with liberal causes.

posted by: matt325c on January 23, 2013  11:54pm

So, Mr Kurtz, you blame gun owners who have their guns stolen out of their homes for gun crimes?  If one owns a gun, that individual should never leave their home to make sure their gun isn’t stolen?  If someone steals my gun, they have committed a crime in obtaining the gun, and I am not to blame for their actions.  I would imagine that a very small percentage of gun owners break gun laws, and those that do should be punished.  A very small percentage of individuals are committing gun crimes, and they too need to be punished accordingly.  To blame and punish all legal gun owners who do not break the law is not the answer.

posted by: William Kurtz on January 24, 2013  9:40am

Anyone who owns more guns than he can carry has a responsibility to ensure that they’re as secured as possible against theft or misuse. This doesn’t mean leaving them in a nightstand drawer, or under the driver’s seat, or in the glove compartment. It means keeping them locked in a safe, with trigger guards, and making sure the locks on your house are capable of resisting all but concerted attempts to break in.  If you can’t do that, you’re not ready for the responsibility of owning a gun.

posted by: Miss E on January 24, 2013  10:00am

For the sake of the family, I am happy that progress was made on this case. None of us can imagine possibly walking the same streets as the person that killed our loved one. It is scary to know we interact with people daily that are capable ofm just ending someones life.

posted by: Truth Avenger on January 24, 2013  11:09am

To Hhe:
  You make the mistake of thinking that gun control is a “liberal issue.” It’s not. It’s a human issue and there are many NRA menbers and gun owners generally, who are supporting good-sense legislation to take certain guns out of circulation, but still allow folks to reasonably protect themselves with other types of weapons.  No one is suggestion that stricter controls are a panacea and will cure all ills.  A multi-pronged approach is certainly required.  Politicizing the issue with partisan nonsense misses the point.  I do believe that a citizen’s right to go about without being shot, trumps citizen’s rights to own assault weapons and semi automatics.  Those that have been cut down through gun violence will never get to practice THEIR 2nd amendment rights…will they?  Go back and read the link in my previos post.

posted by: HhE on January 25, 2013  12:29am

Truth Avenger, did you even read what I wrote? 

Are Winchester 1905s and Remington 8s a profound threat, or just historical hunting rifles that could be used for evil?

At the end of the day, the NRA and its ying-yang partner, HCI, are in the business of raising funds from their “true believers” to “fight the good fight.”  What is happening here in Connecticut, in much of the country, and at the federal level is going to flood the NRA with money, and is driving gun sales through the roof.  (I have a friend who owns about five guns, and probably never would have bought another one, but is scraping every last penny he can to buy at least three more.)  What was the best year for gun makers?  1968.  Second best?  ‘93-‘94. 

The NRA’s narrative is an incremental stripping of gun rights, starting with assault weapons.  When you say “We need to start with Assault type and semi-automatic long guns and work from there.” you are speaking to that narrative. 

The worse thing that could ever happen to the NRA, is if the Supreme Court ever declared the 2nd Amendment to be an individual right that no state may interfere with, and that the Federal Government could only tax.  By the end of the week, they would have to sell their big office building in Northern VA, lay off over 99% of their staff, combine all their publications, and make it actually worth reading (or who would buy?), and find a new home for their museum. 

PS I am huge fan of Project Exile.

posted by: Truth Avenger on January 25, 2013  10:08am

HhE…All the millions the NRA spent to get their chosen candidates elected recently ended in dismal failures.  Hardly any of their candidates won. They are a paper tiger and Americans are through being intimidated by their rhetoric. I am not afraid of the money they will attract, or the spike in gun sales, or how much they bluster about their guns being taken away (a lie). Your conjecture about what might or might not happen in the wake of sensible legislation (I’m not going to entertain your fantasy about Supreme Court involvement)is irrelevant. What you fail to acknowledge is that a vast majority of Americans favor additional gun control in all categories…those in favor of Assault weapons legislation is at 54% and the numbers go up to 92% for those wanting universal background checks.  Americans overwhelmingly want gun and ammo ccontrolwell as sensible regulation. Your narrative seems to suggest that if we just cower and go away quietly, all will be fine…until the next massacre. If an incremental “stripping” (we call it the Democratic process)of the high powered weaponry that facilitates these mass killing is what it takes- so be it.  The NRA and its sycophants and their gun manufacturer masters can kiss America’s collective you-know-what, and mine too.

posted by: HhE on January 25, 2013  12:04pm

Truth Avenger, I am thinking you are very angry, and I think that is very understandable.  I am outraged and saddened by these murders.

I do not think you even begin to take my meaning. 

I was not postulating some Supreme Court ruling that I might desire (I do not), rather that the NRA’s real mission is to fund itself though members’ fears. 

Given the amount of guns already out there, what measure, short of confiscation, would work?  Some cheep and nasty guns aside, and those lost overboard or through police action, they pretty much last close on to forever. 

I do not know where you get your numbers from, but I would hardly call 54% “a vast majority.” 

May I suggest reading Feldman’s Ricochet?  (I would take what he says with a grain of salt because I believe he has an axe to grind.)  Also, spending some time with people who care about guns (and not the nut jobs on TV and YouTube), and suspending judgement as you listen to them, might help develop a more comprehensive understanding.

All I have been trying to say is that the call to action is very understandable, but the unintended consequences may be greater than the gain.  This is true not only with guns, but with involuntary commitments to mental hospitals of people who do not have a mental health problem (now that would drive me insane).