Family of Hamden teen fatally shot, Gov. Lamont join call for changes to CT juvenile justice system


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — State leaders and law enforcement held a press conference to discuss juvenile crime in the state on Thursday. This comes after a Hamden teen was fatally shot. His family and the governor are calling for changes to the state’s juvenile justice system to prevent these crimes.

New information was released Thursday about the deadly shooting of a 14-year-old from Hamden. Police released his identification. They say Will Vasquez was dropped off at a hospital in Waterbury on Monday after he was shot in the head.

RELATED: State Police identify 14-year-old who died after being shot in the back of the head

Will’s mother and grandmother attended a press conference at the Capitol on Thursday with Governor Ned Lamont, Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary, and Police Commissioner James Rovella.

Will’s mother was too distraught to speak, but Lamont described what she had told him. The 14-year-old had trouble with stolen cars in the past and the night he died got into the seat of the wrong stolen car and ended up getting shot.

The governor told a story of a mother who was failed by probation. Will was wearing an ankle bracelet, but not the kind with a GPS tracker; it merely registered whether he was in the house or not. Several times when he went back to court, his mom asked the court to keep the ankle bracelet on.

Mayor O’Leary explained, “They were going to take the bracelet off, but the mother asked that they leave it on, so they did. They left it on for another seven days, but when he reappeared in court and the next appearance, the decision was made to take the bracelet off. Mom didn’t want the bracelet off but the decision was made.”

“I wish the probation department would have been a little stronger after his first offense, getting in the wrong car,” Gov. Lamont said. “I wish the ankle bracelet had GPS so it could track – not only when he leaves the house – but where he goes.”

Governor Lamont said they first need to clear the backlog of cases in the juvenile court system:

“Our courts have been backed up a lot with COVID and we weren’t having in-person courtroom hearings, and we are going to do everything we can to catch up.”

And then go after the hard-core offenders. Gov. Lamont explained the biggest problem with juvenile crimes is that 10% of the juveniles are committing 90% of the crime.

Mayor O’Leary was at the news conference to talk about that 10%.

“The 20 individuals I mentioned in Waterbury we label them ‘high-risk, repeat juvenile offenders,'” the mayor said. “They are the ones involved in the stolen cars, the gunplay, the shootings, the robberies, and the increase in crime. “

The governor says they may be able to save some of the teenagers at risk if they can get the hardened young criminals off the street.

“We have places we can put these folks, you know short of full prison,” the governor explained. “We’ve got a secure group facility where the kid cannot go out and have an opportunity do you danger himself or others.”

Safe Streets Connecticut was also there on the steps of the Capitol next to the governor. They have been pushing for immediate change to juvenile laws.

Stephan Maksymiuk of Safe Street CT said, “We were sad that the governor didn’t have a special session to look at legislation, to close some of these gaps with juvenile repeat crime laws that we have in this state.”

State Republicans put out a statement Thursday afternoon saying the governor can no longer turn a blind eye to juvenile crime. They, too, have been asking for a special session to address it. They say it’s sad that it has taken so long and so many lives for the governor to address it and realize the seriousness of the crisis.

Republicans point out, Gov. Lamont came out to address juvenile crime less than a week before the November election.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


'Buyer Beware': Burlington Fire warns residents of t-shirt text scam

News /

Winterfair kicks off on Pratt Street in Hartford

News /

Black Friday is here!

News /

Black Friday shopping begins early at Cabela's in East Hartford

News /

Sheehan, Lyman Hall go head-to-head in the 50th anniversary of the town's powderpuff game

News /

'Dine Local': Celebrating small businesses hardest hit during the pandemic

News /
More Hartford

Trending Stories

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss