VERNON, Conn. (WTNH) — Vernon police arrested five suspects Sept. 22 and are looking for the sixth in connection to an August shooting in Rockville Wednesday.
Police said that on Aug. 27, police responded to a shooting on Prospect Street, where they found a juvenile boy with multiple head and neck injuries. Police said he was pistol-whipped by two suspects: 21-year-old Jakwai Sosa of Vernon and 18-year-old Trenton Merrill. The victim also managed to deflect the pistol Merrill pointed and shot once at the victim’s face. The victim was not struck by a bullet.
Police later found the pistol in a storm drain on Ward Street.
For that incident, police arrested Sosa on a warrant Tuesday. He received multiple charges including conspiracy to commit murder and assault. He also received drug trafficking charges when police searched his home at 157 Union Street and found drugs, paraphernalia, and a large amount of U.S. currency. Sosa’s bond is set to $1.6 million and appeared in court on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
Trenton Merrill was at large and wanted in connection to the shooting. Police said he should be considered armed and dangerous. Tuesday, Sept. 29 police reported they had arrested Merrill. He is charged with attempted murder, operating a drug factory, and several other felony counts.
Before they were able to catch Merrill, police arrested his mother, 41-year-old Carlyann Merrill, who police say allegedly deleted footage that was recorded on her Union Street home surveillance system after finding out about the shooting investigation involving her son. Further, police say, she refused to surrender her cell phone to police which is believed to contain evidence. The phone had to be forcibly taken from her by police. She is charged with tampering with evidence and interfering with police.
Surveillance footage from the Union Street home and town-owned cameras, as well as private citizens who captured the shooting, discarding of the gun, and the post-shooting flight of the suspects was analyzed by police and proved to be extremely valuable to the investigation.
A 17-year-old boy accused of driving Sosa and Merrill to and from the shooting on Prospect Street received multiple charges, including conspiracy to commit murder and criminal liability to commit murder. The juvenile was brought to Hartford Juvenile Detention and detained.
The girlfriend of one of the involved individuals, 18-year-old Angela Raber of Vernon was arrested and charged for providing a false statement to police for the shooting investigation and is alleged to part of trafficking the drugs found in the Union Street home.
Another juvenile was arrested and charged in connection to trafficking drugs found in the Union Street home. He was referred to juvenile authorities.
Police believe the victim of the shooting was targeted as part of an ongoing and escalating feud between two groups of young men Vernon police say they have tried to diffuse over the past two years. Police say they have made over a dozen arrests in connection to these incidents.
Anyone with information on this investigation is asked to call Det. Thomas Van Tasel at 860-872-9126, ext. 3767.