Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that TIHAJA ORTIZ-TUCKER, 18, of New Haven, was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint charging him with carjacking.
As alleged in court documents and statements made in court, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Violent Crime Task Force and several police departments have been investigating multiple violent carjackings that have occurred recently in Connecticut. One carjacking involved a victim who had posted her vehicle for sale on Facebook Marketplace. On July 7, 2022, Ortiz-Tucker and others met the victim on Thompson Street in Bridgeport and test drove her car. The victim reported that, after the test drive, Ortiz-Tucker reached into a black fanny pack-style pouch slung over his shoulder and pulled out a 9mm handgun and pointed it at her. Ortiz-Tucker instructed the victim to get out of the car or he was going to shoot her. The victim complied, and Ortiz drove away in the victim’s vehicle.
It is further alleged that Ortiz-Tucker is suspected of being involved in other gunpoint carjackings, including two carjackings of Uber drivers on May 2 and May 4, 2022. In both instances, an Uber driver picked up the carjacker in New Haven and drove to Wallingford where their cars were taken from them. Both cars were later recovered in the same area of Hamden.
Ortiz-Tucker appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Spector in New Haven and was ordered detained pending a detention hearing that is scheduled for July 26.
The complaint charges Ortiz-Tucker with conspiracy, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, and with possessing and brandishing a firearm in connection with a crime of violence, namely carjacking, which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of at least seven years.
U.S. Attorney Avery stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Violent Crime Task Force, the Connecticut State Police and the Wallingford, New Haven, Hamden, Waterbury, and Bridgeport Police Departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah P. Karwan and Tara E. Levens.