A federal grand jury in New Haven has returned an indictment charging five Bridgeport men with multiple offenses stemming from their alleged involvement in an afternoon shooting in front of a state courthouse in Bridgeport in January.
Today’s announcement was made by John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut; Joseph T. Corradino, State’s Attorney for the Fairfield Judicial District; Bridgeport Police Chief Armando J. Perez; Kelly D. Brady, Special Agent in Charge, ATF Boston Field Division; David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England.
The indictment, which was returned on August 5 and unsealed today following the arrest of four of the five defendants, charges
MARQUIS ISREAL, 24
ASANTE GAINES, 23
DESTINE CALDERON, 25
DIOMIE BLACKWELL, 23
LAHEEM JONES, 25
Isreal, Calderon, Blackwell and Jones were arrested today. They appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitsimmons via video conference and are detained. Gaines is detained in state custody on unrelated charges.
As alleged in court documents and statements made in court, in an effort to address escalating violence in Bridgeport, the FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals and Bridgeport Police are actively investigating members of multiple Bridgeport-based groups, including members of the “Greene Homes Boys” or “Hots” (“GHB/Hots”), a group based in the Charles F. Greene Homes Housing Complex in Bridgeport’s North End, whose members are involved in narcotics trafficking and numerous acts of violence, including murder. At various times, GHB/Hots members have formed alliances with other Bridgeport groups, including the Original North End (“ONE”) to target rival gang members.
On January 27, 2020, at 12:11 p.m., Bridgeport Police responded to the area of 172 Golden Hill Street in Bridgeport after a Shot Spotter activation detected approximately 20 shots being fired in front of the state courthouse located there. Upon arrival, investigators discovered that four victims – Trevon Wright, Khalil Heard, Jaffar Ali, 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. 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. The victims’ vehicle had approximately 23 entry bullet holes in the driver’s side and windshield area.
As alleged, this shooting is part of a larger ongoing investigation targeting the GHB/Hots, ONE and rival gangs.
The indictment charges Isreal, Gaines, Calderon, Blackwell and Jones with one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, attempted murder/aiding and abetting in assault with a dangerous weapon, and attempted murder, all in violation of the Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering (“VCAR”) statute. The assault offense carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and the attempted offenses carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. The five defendants are also charged with conspiracy to commit murder/conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon. The conspiracy to commit murder offense carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and the conspiracy to commit assault offense carries a maximum term of imprisonment of three years.
The indictment also charges Isreal with one count of using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, an offense that carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of at least 10 years, and one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine base (“crack”) and fentanyl, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
“The federal charges against these five defendants are the result of an extensive investigation conducted by a partnership of law enforcement entities formed to address the surge in violent crime in the city of Bridgeport,” said U.S. Attorney Durham. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Bridgeport State’s Attorney’s Office are jointly supervising the investigation, and federal and state prosecutors worked seamlessly to ensure that appropriate charges were brought. I applaud the collaborative efforts of the Bridgeport Police Department, ATF, FBI and DEA in bringing those who are alleged to be responsible for this reckless and violent incident to stand trial for their actions. I also thank the forensic examiners at the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Division of Scientific Services for their timely and expert analysis pertaining to DNA and ballistic evidence that has been critical to this investigation. Finally, I want to stress that while this is a significant and substantial prosecution that will assist in quelling violence in Bridgeport, our work is far from over. We continue to jointly investigate other violent acts in Bridgeport, and the groups, gangs or individuals responsible for them.”
“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to United States Attorney John H. Durham for his strong commitment to public safety in the city of Bridgeport,” said Chief Perez. “I also want to thank all of our federal and state partners. This was a great effort on everyone’s part.”
“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.”
“This investigation is an example of ATF’s commitment to working with our law enforcement partners at the Bridgeport Police Department, DEA and FBI, said ATF Special Agent in Charge Brady. “Together we identified, targeted, investigated and arrested alleged violent criminals. Today’s arrests should serve as a warning that we will not tolerate gang related violence and those who cause it.”
“This indictment and these arrests are the result of the around the clock investigative work by city, state and federal law enforcement despite the ongoing challenges in our communities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Sundberg. “The alleged brazen violent acts by these individuals showed their blatant disregard for life of innocent people entering and exiting the court house. We will continue to vigorously pursue those bad actors that disrupt and diminish the quality of life for law abiding citizens.”
“As we all know, drug trafficking in our communities, along with the gun and physical violence that often accompanies it, is a serious threat to our families and communities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Boyle. “These crimes rob the neighborhoods of safety and hold law abiding citizens of Connecticut hostage to drug-fueled lawlessness. This is unacceptable and will not be allowed to happen. DEA and its local, state and federal partners are dedicated to bringing to justice those that commit these crimes.”
“The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Division of Scientific Services forensic analysts utilized the NIBIN and CODIS databases to provide timely forensic investigative leads to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” said Dr. Guy M. Vallaro, Director of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Division of Scientific Services.
U.S. Attorney Durham stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Safe Streets and Violent Crimes Task Forces, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, Bridgeport Police Department, Connecticut State Police and the Bridgeport State’s Attorney’s Office, with the assistance of the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory and the Waterbury Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jocelyn C. Kaoutzanis, Rahul Kale, Peter D. Markle and Karen L. Peck.
U.S. Attorney Durham noted that this prosecution is a part of the Justice’s Department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program and Project Longevity. PSN is a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Longevity is a comprehensive initiative to reduce gun violence in Connecticut’s major cities. Through Project Longevity, community members and law enforcement directly engage with members of groups that are prone to commit violence and deliver a community message against violence, a law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence and an offer of help for those who want it.