Alleged racketeers indicted in Bridgeport courthouse shooting that wounded 4
NEW HAVEN — A federal grand jury has indicted five Bridgeport men on racketeering charges in connection with the January Bridgeport court shooting that injured four and forced people to flee for their lives.
Prosecutors said the five, Marquis Israel; Asante Gaines, 23; Destine Calderon, 25; Diomie Blackwell, 23; and Laheem Jones, 25, were members of the Bridgeport gang called The Green Home Boyz, also known as The Hots, which is allegedly locked in a war with groups from Bridgeport’s East Side.
The shooting occurred in the middle of the afternoon on Jan. 27, outside the Golden Hill Street courthouse.
“Approximately 23 shots were fired. There were four victims: one was paralyzed, one sustained multiple gunshot wounds and two others were less seriously wounded,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Markle told U.S. District Judge-Magistrate Holly Fitzsimmons during an arraignment hearing by video conference Thursday afternoon.
“Many more people were endangered,” Markle continued. “The victims were shot in their car outside the courthouse.”
He said the arrests were the result of a partnership between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Bridgeport State’s Attorney Joseph Corradino, Bridgeport Police, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Each of the men is charged with multiple counts of committing a violent crime — such as assault with a dangerous weapon and attempted murder — in aid of racketeering.
The defendants, who watched the proceeding from jail cells, pleaded not guilty to the charges. All five are being held without bond pending a hearing before U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton.
“These are very serious charges. The penalty and the consequences to you if there is a conviction could be very, very serious,” the judge told them.
Each defendant faces more than 30 years in prison if convicted of the crimes. Each one separately told the judge they understood the charges against them. Calderon wanted to say more but was stopped by his lawyer, Robert Golger.
Golger and the other attorneys representing the men were not immediately available for comment.
According to the indictment, the Green Homes Boyz formed alliances with other groups such as ONE, the Original North End gang, to “engage in narcotics distribution and acts of violence including acts involving murder and assault.”
Last month, five alleged members of ONE, Henry Floy, Shakale Brantley, Antoine Sistrunk, Ta’Ron Pharr and Jaylen Wilson, were arrested as part of the same investigation, police said.
“My hat’s off to U.S. Attorney John Durham,” said Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez. “He really stood by his commitment to the citizens of the City of Bridgeport. These guys have caused a lot of the violence in our city and I’m glad they have been taken off the street.”
“Continued cooperation among local, state and federal agencies is essential to stem the rising tide of violence in our community so that our youth can avail themselves to opportunities in education and employment, and all residents can enjoy peace and security,” said State’s Attorney Corradino. “I look forward to more successful interagency coordination and express my appreciation to all of the outstanding work by all those involved in this investigation.”
Police said shortly after noon on Jan. 27, Shot Spotter activation detected approximately 20 shots being fired in front of the state courthouse.
Upon arrival, officers discovered that four men — Trevon Wright, Khalil Heard, Jaffar Ali and Jaheim Warren — had been shot while sitting inside a black Chevrolet Impala.
Wright was shot in the side of his chest, and has been left paralyzed, police said. Heard sustained multiple gunshot wounds to his back, shoulder and wrist. Ali was grazed in the head and shot in the left thumb, and Warren was grazed in the ribs, police said.
The mens’ vehicle had approximately 23 entry bullet holes in the driver’s side and windshield area, reports at the time said.