HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Two men accused in the shooting death of a Hartford toddler had a brief court hearing Tuesday. Afterward, Mothers United Against Violence took U.S. Congressman John Larson on a tour of the city’s North End near where the toddler and many others were shot and killed.
Jaziah Smith, 19, is accused of shooting Randell Jones, 3, to death while he sat in his mother’s car last month. Tyquam Malone, police allege, was the getaway driver. They both appeared in court Tuesday.
Shortly after the hearing, Reverent Henry Brown and Mothers United Against Violence (MUAV) took Congressman John Larson on a tour of Hartford’s North End near where Rondell and many others were killed. Activists say they have a rare opportunity to stop the senseless violence.
“More people have been murdered on this street than any other street in Hartford,” said Brown when the tour reached Enfield Street.
The tour spanned less than a quarter of a square mile. But it marked scene after scene of deadly shootings that took the lives of young people in the city.
At one point the activists stopped at a memorial for 16-year-old Ja’Mari Preston—still fresh with balloons and candles. Preston was shot and killed hours after 3-year-old Randell was murdered. Police believe the two crimes are connected but have not said how.
WEB EXTRA: Read arrest warrant for Jaziah Smith
WEB EXTRA: Read arrest warrant for Tyquam Malone
Preston’s killing remains unsolved. Rondell’s alleged murderers are awaiting trial. Discussing the toddler’s slaying, an emotional Brown told Larson, “We need help.”
Community leaders say the entire system needs a reset.
Larson said the American Rescue Plan could be just that. Passed by Congress, he calls it a once-in-a-generation infusion of cash to cities and towns that can help alleviate poverty and inequity in the inner city.
The State and city have already pledged to funnel funds to anti-violence groups like MUAV. Larson says money will also go towards infrastructure and pandemic-related healthcare costs.
Likening the plan to Roosevelt’s New Deal, Larson says groups like MUAV play a big part in educating the community about how to access that money and create opportunities for inner-city residents.
“A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity but one we have to take advantage of and why their work is so important,” he said of MUAV.
“We’ve been suffering and really deprived of so many aspects of both the economic layer – which includes the jobs and the housing,” said Debra Davis from MUAV. “I don’t even want to start with the health and the traumatization. People are living with trauma.”