Five months after someone shot him, a Crip suddenly “remembered” who did it: a Blood named “Triple Black.”
Cold-case cops followed up—and made an arrest in a case that could have easily fallen through the cracks.
In the annals of shooting arrests, the charges filed last week against Triple Black would typically merit little more than a passing mention.
At the time the shooting caused havoc. It took place around 1 p.m. last June 6. Someone in an Audi passing by on Columbus Avenue sprayed at least eight .40-caliber bullets at a man out on the street. Nearby Roberto Clemente School was put on lockdown.
Compared to higher-profile shootings, though, this one claimed minor damage. The man was hit once in his right inner thigh; he was treated at the hospital and released the same day. Bullets hit two cars in a parking lot.
And the victim at first said he had no idea who shot him. Never seen that guy before, he stated to police. No other evidence pointed to a shooter. Meanwhile, murders and more serious shootings commanded the attention of New Haven detectives.
But by last June, a new team of investigators had taken shape in New Haven: city cops working with state investigators and some suburban cops to track down those lesser-known shootings that defy immediate solution, the ones that used to end up too often in the “unsolved” file. The new shootings task force had the mission of making sure even minor shootings get followed up on, part of a strategy that helped lower the number of shootings in New Haven by 30 percentage points in 2012.
Triple Black’s arrest was about the 75th the task force has made so far, according to Sgt. Jimmy Grasso, who runs it.
Triple Black’s attorney had no comment for this story. Her client has yet to enter pleas in his most recent cases.
In the case of the June 6 incident, the task force revisited the shooting victim in November. His memory had apparently sharpened with time. In retrospect, he told the task force’s Inspector Joe Howard in a follow-up interview, he knew well who shot him: the Blood known as Triple Black. He then picked out Triple Black in a photo array, according to a subsequent arrest warrant affidavit. The victim, according to the affidavit, was a member of the Crips, a rival gang that spent much of 2012 firing bullets at Bloods or dodging Bloods bullets.
The shooting had left the victim on bed rest for a few weeks, then on crutches, according to the affidavit. “[The victim] stated that he had initially adhered to the ‘no snitching’ code of the street when dealing with the police investigation in this incident. He stated that he had since had a change of heart which motivated him to cooperate truthfully with the police in this and other investigations.”
The task force sought Triple Black’s side of the story. He ‘stated that he had nothing whatsoever to say,” according to the affidavit.
The task force found Triple Black, who’s 30 years old, at Corrigan Correction Institution. He was already locked up there, unable to post a $500,000 bond after being charged in a separate shooting that occurred in New Haven back in April. That one occurred at 1:53 a.m. as bars were closing on Winchester Avenue in Newhallville. The shootings task force had already investigated that one and arrested Triple Black along with two accomplices.
He appeared in court on Jan. 15 to answer those and other charges. He has nine cases dating back to 2011, with multiple drug-dealing and weapons charges, all pending against him.
So what is the significance of piling on this one more case?
For starters, noted Sgt. Grasso. It added $250,000 to his bond, for a total of $750,000. It keeps him locked up.
In addition, the latest investigation itself led the task force to another unsolved shooting, this one in Stevens Street on July 11. In that case, as in the Jun 6 shooting, multiple people were involved. Innocent people were in the vicinity and could have been hit by the bullets.
And Triple Black remains a suspect in numerous other shootings, said Grasso, a 21-year veteran of New Haven’s force.
On top of that, there’s the basic question of justice being served, Grasso said.
“He needs to be held accountable for crimes he has committed, regardless of the fact that he’s [already] in jail.”