Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez said the shooting Saturday that left one dead and six wounded “likely never would have happened if the state had done its job and locked up Ezekiel Roberts.”
Roberts, 21, died in the shooting near the corner of Main and Cleveland streets Saturday after the annual West Indian pride parade.
Hartford Police Chief Daryl Roberts said Ezekiel Roberts, to whom he was related as a distant cousin, was on probation for his presence during the stabbing of 17-year-old Hiram David Colon of East Hartford in 2006. Roberts was given a 12-year suspended prison sentence and 5 years probation in March for his role in that stabbing. Police were unable to determine who dealt the fatal wound in that case. Roberts was subsequently arrested by Hartford police four times this summer for possession of marijuana, criminal trespass, and violation of probation.
Roberts said Ezekiel’s last arrest was on Aug. 6 for violation of probation.
“Had he been incarcerated he may be alive today,” Roberts said Monday at a City Hall press conference.
Judicial Branch officials were not immediately available for comment. Click here to see what Hartford’s State Attorney Gail Hardy told the Hartford Courant regarding Hartford officials comments.
Those wounded in Saturday’s shooting include Tafari Jackson, 15, of Bloomfield, John Gibson, 16, of Windsor, Zinia Jackson, 15 months old, of Hartford, Tyreke Marquis, 7, of Hartford, Quarnell Smith, 16, of Hartford, and Angelique Green, 17, of Hartford.
“How dare anyone fire a weapon into a crowded area where people are having a celebration with children,” Council Majority Leader rJo Winch said Monday.
“It’s not fair to our police department, who are arresting these individuals, and they go through the court and end up getting through the system, then three days later the person lays dead,” Winch said. “If the court had done their job that person would have been locked up and incarcerated right now.”
As part of Hartford’s five-point plan to address violence in the city, Perez also announced Monday that it will be enacting a 30-day emergency curfew for anyone under the age of 18.
Perez said if Hartford Police pick up anyone on the street under the age of 18 after 9 p.m. without a parent, they will be taken to one of two community centers in the north end or south end of the city. Perez said the children only will be released into the custody of a parent or guardian, and child services will be contacted if no one comes to pick them up.
In addition to enforcing the curfew that has been on the books since the early 1990s, Hartford police will produce a “Most Watched List” of individuals wanted for an offense or who are known to be associated with illegal activity.
Roberts said there already are 25 people on the list who have a propensity to use gun violence. Also, Roberts said the police department will be working closely with the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office to prosecute gun crimes.
Step four of Hartford’s five-point plan is to write to Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Chief Justice Chase Rogers to ask the state for its help in increasing its supervision of those out on bond or probation in the city of Hartford. Perez also said he is working with Mayor John DeStefano Jr. of New Haven and Mayor Bill Finch of Bridgeport to find resources for additional officers and youth intervention strategies.
Meanwhile, Rev. Henry Brown and Mothers United Against Violence will hold a gathering at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the corner of Cleveland and Main Streets where Saturday’s shooting occurred.
Following Monday’s press conference, Brown applauded the use of the curfew saying he’s been advocating for its use. He said the number one solution to preventing the violence is getting parents to step up and talk about preventing retaliation. “Somehow we have to send a strong message,” Brown said.