Meriden police team with FBI to stop recent shootings; arrest made in Puerto Rico

New Haven

MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — There’s concern in Meriden. We heard it from two different residents. An uptick in violence.

One woman tells News 8 a stray bullet recently flew into her home — missing her.

“It came right through the front room,” she said. “It was a little unsettling to say the least.”

“This has, without a doubt,” said the other resident. “Been one of the most violent summers I’ve ever experienced.”

Meriden has been experiencing an uptick in shootings lately. On Facebook, Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati says 2020 has seen the highest volume of shootings in a decade in Meriden.

Today, Police Chief Roberto Rosado held a press conference to address what his department is doing about the problem — a problem made worse just yesterday when police say people in two cars were shooting at each other in a parking lot outside Meriden Mall.

RELATED: Meriden PD investigating shooting in Meriden mall area

“This has gotta stop,” one resident said.

At the press conference, Chief Rosado stood by Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo and FBI Special Agent Dave Sundberg as he announced a combined effort to handle gang violence in the area.

Chief Rosado was asked if the incident at the mall was gang-related.

“We believe it is connected to the violence that has been occurring in the city,” he said.

That violence has been a string of shootings — shootings the chief says are not random acts of violence. They’re being carried out by individuals targeting specific individuals.

News 8 asked Special Agent Lundberg how teaming up with the FBI’s Gang Violence Task Force can make a difference in Meriden.

“When we combine FBI resources, technology, specialized personnel, along with dedicated police officers and detectives who have local knowledge and understand the intelligence, and who these actors are in our community who are committing these crimes, we build a collaborative effort that has been proven time and time again to reduce such violence,” he said.

News 8 asking Chief Rosado about specifics when it comes to this partnership paying off on the streets of Meriden. His answer:

“To give an example of your question — last month we received information from our federal partners where we were able to get a search warrant for a residence,” Chief Rosado said. “We executed a search warrant. At that residence, we located four firearms, arrested three individuals involved. One of those individuals is believed to be involved in another shooting.”

And late this afternoon — word of another arrest. Meriden Police announcing an arrest in the murder of Casey Schoonover in Meriden. They say their suspect, 32-year-old Davis Omar Roman Villanueva, was captured in Puerto Rico. Villanueva was taken into custody in Puerto Rico by the Aguadilla Police Department and U.S. Marshalls.

RELATED: Meriden homicide suspect arrested in Puerto Rico

Chief Rosado told News 8 before word of that arrest, the partnership/task force has so far resulted in 20 arrests and seventeen guns being taken off of Meriden streets.

And for the residents we spoke we spoke with, all of that police work is giving them some peace of mind.

“Any help that we can get is greatly appreciated,” said one resident.

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