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Arrest made in fatal shooting of Hartford 3-year-old: police

Police said 19-year-old Jaziah Smith has been charged with murder.

HARTFORD, Conn. — A 19-year-old man was arrested Monday in connection with the shooting death of a 3-year-old in Hartford, police said.

Jaziah Smith was arrested Monday morning following a week-long investigation into the death of Randell Jones.

Smith, 19, was charged with murder and made his first court appearance at Hartford Superior Court. He was held a $1.75 million bond.

Jones died after a shooting on Nelson St. around 2:30 p.m. on Nelson Street in Hartford. The 3-year-old was sitting in a car with his mother, two siblings, and another man when gunshots rang out.

Police said the target in the shooting was the man in the car, who escaped the shooting uninjured.

As police were investigating the incident, a second deadly shooting was reported a few blocks away.

Ja'Mari Preston, a 16-year-old from New Britain, was shot and killed behind a home on Magnolia Street. Police later said they believed the shootings were related.

Two vehicles later found burnt in Hartford and Windsor were related to the investigation.

Hartford Police Jason Thody said detectives assigned to the Major Crimes Division were able to identify the shooter in Jones’ homicide and applied for an arrest warrant for Smith on Saturday. He was taken into custody without incident Monday morning on Burton St.

“This was a collaborative effort from everyone here in the police department and outside with the agencies that helped us,” he said during a press conference Monday afternoon.

He credited all the leads police received during a vigil for Jones last week to gather enough information to identify Smith.

“This is still an ongoing investigation," Thody said. "We still have work to do here, interviews that need to be conducted.”

He continued: “This one really hit home.”

Mayor Luke Bronin said he mourned Monday with Jones’ family as he was laid to rest Monday.

“In solving a crime like this … they are not just solving crime, they are working to prevent crime and keeping our city safe,” he said.

Detective Cody, who led the team of investigators, said Monday it was a very tough week for everyone involved. He said he has spoken to Jones’ family every day since the fatal shooting.

“We took it very personal,” he added.

Thody said investigators still believe there is a relationship between Nelson and Magnolia shooting, however, did not elaborate how Smith may have played a role in the second shooting.

Police have not made an arrest in Preston's death.

 

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