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'You took my best friend': Loved ones of East Hartford homicide victim in shock as investigation continues

Police identified the homicide victim of Devonte Gardner, 28, of Waterbury.

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — East Hartford police continue to investigate what led up to Wednesday night's homicide which left a Waterbury man dead. Loved ones spoke exclusively to FOX61 about the victim.

Detectives were by Park Avenue and Garden Street all of Wednesday night and Thursday morning combing through evidence. 

The victim was identified as Devonte Gardner, 28 of Waterbury.

"Oh my God!" cried Jatejhia Trent, best friend of Gardner. 

Trent was overcome with grief and anger as she woke up to the news of her children's father shot dead.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Waterbury man killed in East Hartford shooting

Police responded to the area shortly before 8 p.m. for a report of shots fired. 

"Police began taking lifesaving measures immediately," said Officer Marc Caruso of the East Hartford Police Department. "He was transported to Hartford Hospital where he was later pronounced dead." 

Gardner's sudden loss had his close friends and family wondering who could do something like this. 

"You took my best friend, you took my kids' father, that's something I can never get back, that's not what he deserves," added Trent. 

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Trent said Gardner had a troubled past but made it a mission to start over in life. 

"He was just trying to make an honest living. For the first time in his life, do right actually. So that's what hurt me the most like he was doing something good for his kids," added Trent. 

"Very respectful and a great heart, definitely had some trouble he didn't deserve," said Rashawn Wilson of Waterbury. 

Trent told FOX61 that Gardner worked at Simple Auto Rental, a car rental agency in Waterbury, but is unsure why he was in East Hartford that Wednesday night. 

"We believe he was possibly visiting a friend," added Officer Caruso. 

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Gardner's co-workers gathered in front of the business to mourn but were too emotional to speak on camera. 

Police have called this an isolated incident and there is no threat to the community. 

Police have also identified a person of interest.

Anyone who has witnessed anything or has additional information is urged to contact East Hartford police immediately. 

Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at cchau@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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