BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — Leighton Vanderburg, 22, was arraigned on murder charges Thursday, accused of killing popular Bridgeport store owner 57-year-old Jose Salgado. He was shot in the neck at the Lexington Avenue store Saturday.
“My husband, Leighton Vanderburg, is completely innocent, and justice will show that,” said Jyne Daniels Vanderburg.
Court documents state Salgado’s wife, Maria, who was at the store at the time, says Vanderburg pulled the trigger. Detectives say Vanderburg admitted to his probation officer he was at the store, and said 18-year-old Treizy Lopez, still on the loose, did the shooting. Officers say Vanderburg drove to his probation officer in a light green Ford Focus. A similar car was caught on surveillance video the day of the shooting.
“I’m not making no comments against the car. I’m not making no comments except my husband is innocent,” said Vanderburg’s wife outside of court. When asked if she knows where Leighton was the day and time of the shooting, she said, “no comment.”
“It’s a theory; that’s all anybody got to say,” a woman claiming to be Vanderburg’s sister said emphatically. “Nobody knows what happened but the dear Lord, the (expletive) man, and the people that was there.”
Detectives say the suspects, the car, and robbery matched similar accounts to the murder at a Citgo gas station in New Haven on April 6th, where 39-year-old Sanjay Patel was killed. They say it mirrored another robbery at Smokin’ Wings late Saturday night, in which one person was shot.
“They think they’re the same people, so hopefully they will catch them,” said Smokin’ Wings owner Carlos Perez. Perez was there when he says the three men came in wearing masks on April 11 around 11 p.m.
“I see one of them pulling a gun and they say ‘don’t (expletive) move.’ You know?” said Perez. “‘Give me the money.’ So I say to them just calm down, take it easy.”
Perez says all of sudden the masked men were frightened for no reason. They did not take any money and two started running out the door, but one with a gun stayed behind.
“I don’t even know what the reason was. They just started shooting like crazy,” said Perez.
He says one of this employees, a mother of two, was sitting on a chair in the back. She was shot in the stomach and is in ICU at the hospital.
“Her life is not going to be the same, of course,” said Perez.