Police: alleged killer of 12-year-old confessed

BRIDGEPORT - Warned by his public defender not to talk to anyone - especially police, Tajay Chambers, the alleged killer of 12-year-old Clinton Howell, began to cry.

Hours before police said he gave them a full confession, on video.

On Thursday morning, the 18-year-old Chambers stood before Superior Court Judge Tracy Lee Dayton, staring at the floor. A detail of judicial marshals and state police in a half ring behind him.

“You could see the remorse on his face,” April Barron, a friend of the Howell family, said later. “A young man is dead, another is facing the rest of his life in prison, nobody wins here.”

At the urging of Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Craig Nowak, Dayton ordered Chambers, who is charged with murder with special circumstances, murder, use of a firearm during the commission of a felony, illegal carrying or possession of a pistol or revolver without a permit, three counts of risk of injury to a child, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree larceny, held in lieu of $1 million bond. She continued the case to Jan. 8.

“The charges here are as serious as they get,” the judge agreed.

If convicted of murder with special circumstances Chambers could be sentenced to life without the possibility of release.

An undocumented immigrant from Jamaica, Chambers joined his family in Bridgeport 18 months ago.

Enrolling in September at Central High School, he quickly formed his own gang with 16-year-old Alexander Bolanos Jr. and a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old whose names are not being released, police said.

Bolanos was arraigned Wednesday in court on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree larceny and carrying a pistol without a permit. He is also being held in lieu of $1 million bond. The cases of the 14 and 12-year-old are being processed in juvenile court.

On Oct. 8, they attacked a 16-year-old boy in a stairwell of the high school, police said. Police said as the victim protested he was not involved in “gang stuff,” Chambers and associates pummeled him and then kicked him down the stairs.

When they were later confronted by police, Bolanos spit in an officer’s face.

Youth gangs apparently need rivals and police said Chambers and company were no exception. Police said they decided that a supposed gang from the city’s Eastside calling themselves the BGs or Blitz Gang, would be theirs. Using Facebook and Snapchat they began trading boasts and insults.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Chambers told Police Det. Adam Roscoe that on Dec. 18, Bolanos and the two other youths had picked him up in a Ford Escape they had previously stolen on Madison Avenue. Chambers took over the driving and they went to a location in Stratford to make a sneaker trade. While driving back Chambers received a Snapchat video on his cell phone from Howell’s cousin who Chambers told the detective is a member of the BGs.

“In the video (the cousin) showed them the Willow Street sign and they understood this to be a dare or challenge. Chambers stated that after receiving the video he said, ‘they just hit me, they are on Willow,’” the affidavit states.

With Bolanos now at the wheel, the four drove to Willow Street.

At first, they didn’t see any BG members, so they drove around the block twice, the affidavit states. On the third pass, they saw Howell’s cousin who they believed to be one of the captains of the BGs. He was coming back from the corner store with the younger Howell.

When the cousin saw them, he fired at them with a pellet gun, the affidavit states. Bolanos then drove to the end of the block and made a U-turn. One of the other youths in the car handed Chambers a loaded 9mm handgun and Chambers told the detective he extended his hand out the rear passenger window and fired twice.

Howell was shot once in the chest and died at Bridgeport Hospital.

“I didn’t know that he was 12 years old,” police said Chambers told them. He said he didn’t know he shot someone until he saw it on the website Doing It Local.

Police said they later recovered the gun used in the shooting.