Security cameras, social media used in 3-year-old murder case
On April 10, Randell Jones, 3, was shot and killed in the Nelson and Garden Street neighborhood.
HARTFORD, Connecticut – New court documents show how police were able to identify and arrest the two teenagers accused of shooting Randell Jones, 3, in Hartford earlier last month.
Jaziah Smith, 19, and Tyquam Malone, 16, were arrested in April and charged with murder after a drive-by shooting killed Jones.
The teenage arrest warrants were unsealed and made public on Tuesday and they paint a picture of how Hartford Police have used city surveillance footage and Facebook accounts to identify suspects.
Jones was sitting in a car with his mother, siblings and uncle in the Nelson and Garden Street neighborhood on April 10 when a Honda pulled over on the passenger side and gunshots rang out.
According to court documents, 10 shots were fired at the vehicle. Jones was shot in the upper torso and left arm. He died of his injuries at St. Francis Hospital.
Police said Jones was not the intended target but his uncle, who was sitting in the front passenger seat at the time of the shooting and scrambled in the driver’s seat to avoid the bullets.
Surveillance video obtained by police showed the rear passenger on the driver’s side of the Honda turned his head and was looking directly at the front passenger of the other vehicle. The shooter then brandishes a gun, points directly at Jones’ uncle, and shoots several times.
Police pointed out that the driver of the Honda was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and the front passenger was wearing a blue jacket.
After filming, the Honda fled the scene. He was found later that evening abandoned in the Grace Street area of Hartford. Police said the parking lot where the vehicle was found is known to be a dumping ground for stolen vehicles, according to the affidavit.
Surveillance cameras linked to the Police Department’s Capital Command Center showed two young men exiting the Honda and starting to walk east on Park Street, one removing his gray hoodie and the another a blue jacket. The clothes were handed over to a person riding a bicycle.
Still images were shown to officers and detectives in the Auto Theft Division, who “immediately recognized” one of them as a 20-year-old man whom they had arrested for interfering with officers during the ‘a stolen vehicle case just two days before the shooting documents said.
Police said detectives believed the man captured on their body cameras in the previous arrest was the same person seen in videos on the day of Jones’ shooting. They used his Facebook page, which used a pseudonym, to further identify him.
The photos were shown to Jones’ mother, who confirmed it was the same man – someone she had known “since he was a young child,” the affidavit states.
Police arrested the man on a charge of second degree theft in connection with the theft of the Honda. According to the affidavit, the man told detectives in interviews that he was “the front passenger of the Honda Accord at the time of the shooting.”
He has not been charged with the shooting death of Jones, but remains in custody on charges of theft.
Police said in the affidavit that the man identified Malone as the driver of the vehicle and Smith as the man who shot in the second car, killing Jones.
Smith has been charged with murder and remains in custody on $ 2.5 million bail. Malone was initially charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and theft in juvenile court, but his case was transferred to Hartford Superior Court for trial as an adult. He is now charged with murder and second degree theft and remains in custody on $ 1.5 million bail.
Malone and Smith appeared briefly before judges Tuesday in Hartford.
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