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Aaron Hernandez 'may have been the shooter' in 2012 Boston killings

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Kevin Vaughan

Kevin Vaughan is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post. He is the co-author of "The Ledge: An Inspirational Story of Friendship and Survival." Follow him at kevinvaughan.net and on Twitter.

 
   
 

BRISTOL, Conn.

Former football star Aaron Hernandez “may have been the shooter” in a drive-by shooting in Boston in 2012 that left two men dead and another wounded, according to newly released court documents.

The assertion is contained in a search warrant affidavit, filed in late June, that allowed detectives to examine a Toyota 4Runner that investigators believe Hernandez was driving the morning Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado were gunned down at a stoplight.

Investigators believe the 4Runner, which Hernandez obtained from a Rhode Island auto dealership in exchange for promotional work, was involved in the incident, according to the warrant, which was unsealed this morning.

“There is also probable cause to believe that Aaron Hernandez was operating the suspect vehicle used in the shooting homicides of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado, and may have been the shooter,” a detective wrote in the warrant.

Hernandez, the former Pro Bowl tight end of the New England Patriots, remains behind bars without bail while awaiting trial in the June 17, 2013, killing of Odin Lloyd. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in the death of Lloyd, a semi-pro football player who was dating the sister of the football star’s fiancée.

The Toyota was found parked in the garage of a home owned by Hernandez’s uncle following his implication in Lloyd’s death.

The investigator who filed the affidavit wrote that he hoped to find fingerprints, gunshot residue and shell casings, according to the affidavit, “since there is reason to believe that the vehicle has remained untouched and stored in an enclosed garage for a year.”

It is not clear what – if any – evidence was recovered when the 4Runner was searched. The 2012 deaths remain the subject of an ongoing grand jury investigation in Suffolk County, where Boston is located.

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The warrant also allowed detectives to search a bag of Hernandez’s clothing taken from his uncle’s home in Bristol. According to the affidavit, detectives were hoping to find the clothing Hernandez was wearing the night Abreu and Furtado were killed – a gray baseball cap with a red or orange brim and a red or orange design on the front; a gray T-shirt with a red, green and white design; a pair of gray and white sneakers; a beaded necklace; a set of rosary beads that included a round medallion and a cross.

That first inkling that Hernandez could have been involved in the 2012 killings came after Lloyd’s death. A detective recalled recognizing Hernandez on surveillance footage from a nightclub the victims had visited shortly before they were shot on a highway overpass.

And that initial suspicion was bolstered days later, when a man called police and asserted that the July 16, 2012, shooting, which left a third man wounded, was connected Lloyd’s death. The man said the same person was involved in both killings. He provided enough details about the Boston case to lead detectives to believe that he had intimate knowledge of the shootings.

“Someone accidentally spilled the beans in front of me,” the man told a police dispatcher who asked him how he knew about the possible connection, according to a search warrant affidavit made public in Hernandez’s hometown of Bristol, Conn.

Investigators had earlier obtained a warrant to listen to recorded phone calls placed by a man named Alexander Bradley from a Connecticut jail, where he was being held this fall. According to that warrant, Bradley placed a total of 13 calls on eight separate days between Oct. 4 and Oct. 15 – and investigators believe he discussed the killings of Abreu and Furtado.

Bradley has been described by a prosecutor in the Lloyd case as Hernandez’s former “right-hand man.” However, Bradley has since sued Hernandez in federal court in Florida, alleging that the player shot him in the face in February after a dispute at a nightclub. Bradley was left for dead along a deserted road but survived.

He refused to cooperate with police, and no criminal charges were ever filed. However, he filed that civil suit, asserting that Hernandez shot him and that he lost an eye and suffered other permanent injuries as a result.

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Detectives investigating the 2012 shootings were stymied for nearly a year.

What they knew was that Abreu, Furtado and three other men left a nightclub known as Cure Lounge on Boston’s south side and were sitting at a stop light a few blocks away when someone pulled up in a silver or gray sport utility vehicle and opened fire. Witnesses described it as a Toyota 4Runner or Nissan Pathfinder with Rhode Island plates. Abreu and Furtado died almost instantly, and one of three men in the back seat suffered a gunshot wound in the arm. The other two men, who were not hurt, fled and were questioned later.

Other than the description of the vehicle, police investigators professed that there was little to go on. Abreu and Furtado, immigrants from Cape Verde, were not involved in gangs.

Then came Lloyd’s killing and the almost immediate focus on Hernandez – and the possible connection to Hernandez.

Detectives went back to the video surveillance from the club Abreu and Furtado had been visiting and from other cameras in the area.

They located footage of Hernandez parking in a garage down the street from the club at 12:04 a.m. on July 16, 2012, according to the warrant. He was driving a silver 2006 Toyota 4Runner with Rhode Island license plates. The footage showed Hernandez and a man later identified as Bradley outside Cure Lounge a short time later. The two of them entered the club just after Abreu, Furtado and their three friends.

And although Hernandez and Bradley left nearly an hour before Abreu and Furtado, surveillance cameras captured a vehicle believed to be the 4Runner slowly circling the block as the two men and their friends walked to a parking garage to get their car.

The shootings of Abreu, Furtado and the other man were reported less than 15 minutes later several blocks from the club.

Other evidence in the 2012 case has also come to light in recent months.

Last June 21, state troopers responded to a three-vehicle crash in western Massachusetts. When they searched one of the wrecked vehicles, they found a .38-caliber handgun in the trunk – and, according to multiple media reports, it has been linked to the killings of Abreu and Furtado.

According to a police report, the woman who was driving that car told officers that “a few days ago she gave a ride to a friend named ‘Chicago’ and his buddies. She stated that they are football players and they put all their belongings in the trunk. She stated that she dropped them off at work and they left their belongings in the vehicle ...”

The man identified as “Chicago,” John A. Alcorn, has ties to a cousin of Hernandez, Tanya Singleton, who has been charged with contempt of court for failing to testify before a grand jury and with conspiracy to commit accessory after the fact in Lloyd’s killing. Alcorn is a relative of Singleton’s now-deceased husband, who was killed in a high-speed car crash June 30.

Tagged: Patriots, Aaron Hernandez

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