Accused 17-year old Manchester shooter seeks release on bail
MANCHESTER — The attorney for Adrien Stillwell, 19, who is accused of firing a handgun at a 17-year-old in the doorway of 382 Cedar St. Monday night, said there is no way the victim could have seen a muzzle flash, closed the door and felt the bullet hit the door.
The victim, a 17-year-old, told police he looked out shortly before 10:30 p.m., saw a man about 20 yards away pull a gun from his waistband and fire, so he closed the door.
But at a court hearing Friday morning, defense attorney Donald Topham said: “The physics just don’t work.” Topham said a bullet travels too fast for Luis C. to have seen the flash and close the door in time. “The story that he tells is simply not credible,” said Topham.
Stillwell was arrested on Tuesday on the felony reckless conduct and felon in possession of a firearm charges and arraigned Thursday in Circuit Court-Manchester District Division. Because he had been out on bail on a resisting arrest charge, police prosecutors filed a motion to revoke Stillwell’s bail and a bail revocation hearing was set for Friday morning in Circuit Court.
At the bail revocation hearing, city prosecutor Jeremy Harmon said the shooting is one of 26 documented incidents involving violence between two rival gangs — OTL (Orange to Laurel streets) and 180 — since last July 19. A threatening incident late Tuesday night and Thursday night’s shooting would be numbers 27 and 28.
In the Monday night incident, Manchester Police Detective Michael Lavallee testified at the bail revocation hearing, a bullet went through the Cedar Street door and both a .22 caliber shell casing and a live .22 caliber bullet were found at the scene.
Lavallee said although the victim initially described a person matching Stillwell’s appearance, he claimed not to know who the shooter was.
But after Lavallee received two calls identifying the shooter as Stillwell, the victim changed his story and identified Stillwell, saying he knew him from Manchester High School Central.
Lavallee said the victim told him he didn’t want to identify Stillwell, because he was concerned about himself and his family and didn’t want to be known as a “snitch.”
Stillwell is said to be a member of OTL, while the friends who were with the victim at the time of the shooting allegedly belong to the 180 gang. Lavallee said he doesn’t know if the victim is a member of 180.
Police officer Ryan Heile, the first responder to the shooting scene, said the victim had left and did not return for 20 minutes, He told Heile that he and two friends had been playing basketball and a silver car with three people, two Latinos and one black male, approached them and said: “Who wants to die? Who wants to die?.”
The victim said they went to his Cedar Street residence and after gong back downstairs, he looked outside and saw the person he later identified as Stillwell, draw a gun and shoot.
Topham pressed the officer about whether the victim would say where he had gone for those 20 minutes. Heile said the victim refused to say.
Stillwell was arrested Tuesday evening after Lavallee, who is familiar with him, stopped a vehicle in which Stillwell was a rear seat passenger.
Stillwell said he was in Boston when the Monday night shooting happened. He maintains that he pleaded to a resisting arrest charge on June 10 in Circuit Court, was arrested later that day on the same charge for allegedly walking away from an officer who had responded to a fight in the area of Green and Beech streets, and then left town. Lavallee disputed that, saying he had seen Stillwell in Manchester on June 13.
Topham asked Judge William Lyons not to revoke Stillwell’s bail and asked that bail on the felonies be set at $1,000 cash/surety.
The judge took the matter under advisement.
Before Stillwell’s bail hearing, Hector Velez, 18, who is identified by police as a member of the 180 gang, was arraigned in Circuit Court on a felony criminal threatening charge that alleges he was among a group of seven or eight people who went to the 461 Maple St. residence of a female relative of Stillwell’s late Tuesday night and shone a red laser light into the apartment, banging loudly on the rear door and shouting at her. “Where is Eddy? Where is Eddy,” they shouted at her.
The 20-year-old told police that the males who came to the apartment are all members of the 180 gang and were there to do violence to her boyfriend, Eddy Polanco, 19, who is a member of OTL.
The woman said she peeked out through a hole in the curtain and saw Velez, who she said was carrying a machete. She said she also saw an AK-47 rifle and a black semi-automatic handgun being held by members of the group, who were dressed in black and masked. She said she recognized some voices, but only knew their street names, except for one, a 16-year-old whose name she gave to police.
One of the recent shootings attributed to the gang dispute occurred June 11 at the rear of the same 461 Maple St. address. The victim was Edwin Soto, 23, who was shot in the back.
Police prosecutor Sgt. Stephen Reardon requested $25,000 cash/surety bail, saying Velez has been indicted in connection with the March 2 baseball bat riot on Laurel Street. Reardon said the situation involving these groups is “a huge and simmering problem” that is about to explode.
Velez’ attorney, Daniel Duckett, countered that police were called for shots were fired at the Velez home at 269 Central St. six weeks ago and shell casings were found. He said Velez, a high school graduate who is scheduled to begin studies at Manchester Community College this fall. He is claiming self defense and defense of another in connection with the Laurel Street incident.
As for the Maple Street incident, Duckett said: “He wasn’t at this location.” He sought a $10,000 cash/surety bail for Velez.
Asked by the judge if he had anything to say, Velez responded: “I have no idea what this is about.”
The judge set bail at $25,000 cash/surety, with conditions that include not going to 461 Maple St. and not having contact with the alleged victim. Velez is scheduled for a status hearing June 26.
Another member of the 180 gang, Thomas Ford, 17, of 85 Parker St., was arrested early Friday morning and waived arraignment in Circuit Court-Manchester District Division on drug and alcohol charges.
Ford was charged with a felony of possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute, one misdemeanor of possession of a controlled drug and three misdemeanors of possession of a prescription drug without a prescription, and a violation of possession of alcohol.
The vehicle in which Ford was a passenger was stopped just before 12:30 a.m. Friday at the 7-Eleven at 85 S. Main St., for a defective brake light. Officer Robert Megowen recognized a rear seat passenger as a member of the 180 gang and since units were investigating a gunshot call on Spruce Street involving gang members and a silver vehicle that might have left the area at the time of the shooting, Megowen asked everyone to get out of the vehicle. They were searched for weapons and allowed to return to the vehicle. The driver agreed to a search of the vehicle, which resulted in recovery of a backpack whose large compartment held: a large opened bottle of rum, an envelope with six live rounds of .22 ammunition, a progress report for Ford from Manchester High School Central, a clear bag of dry mushrooms (7.27 grams with bag), a small bag with a variety of pills, and a clear bag of green vegetative matter consistent with marijuana (.94 grams).
Inside the front compartment of the backpack were two mason jars containing marijuana. The approximate combined weight, including bags, was 47.3 grams.
The identifiable pills were not subject to the controlled substance act, but were available only by prescription. Another 17 pills were unidentifiable.
Bail for Ford was set at $250 cash only and a probable cause hearing on the felony was set for July 3. Trial on the remaining charges was set for July 23.