Waterbury Police: Recent shootings related to juvenile crime, car thefts

Crime

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Waterbury Police announced Tuesday morning the second arrest in two connected shootings that happened on the same day last week.

Three people were shot in two different shootings. Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo said the shootings happened on Thursday on John Street and the 500 block of Congress Avenue. He says the shootings had ties to juvenile crime and car thefts.

The first shooting happened at around 6:30 p.m. Thursday on John Street, where an 18-year-old woman was hit in the buttocks. Police arrested 21-year-old Derek St. Hilaire over the weekend in connection with that shooting.

Half an hour later, St. Hilaire was shot in the leg, and his 10-year-old relative was shot in the torso. Police arrested 18-year-old Thomas West, of Waterbury, for his alleged role in the shooting.

Thomas West, 18, of Waterbury (Photo: Waterbury police)

West faces multiple charges, including criminal attempt at assault, reckless endangerment, and carrying a pistol without a permit.

“West is, again, charged with a number of different weapons violations, criminal attempt at assault first and we anticipate more arrest warrants for West,” Spagnolo said.

West is also facing two car theft charges in connection to the shooting. He is being held on a $900,000 bond. Spagnolo said West is “very familiar to the Waterbury police department.”

St. Hilaire faces multiple charges for his alleged role in the shooting on John Street, including assault, reckless endangerment, and weapons in a motor vehicle. He posted his $750,000 bond and has since been released.

Derek St. Hilaire, 21 (Photo: Waterbury police)

All three shooting victims are recovering, but for the city of Waterbury, this kind of crime is not getting any better.

“We know that it’s all tied into group violence,” Spagnolo said. “We know that it all stems from auto theft. There were two juveniles that were arrested that were in possession of stolen automobiles that were also used in these shootings.”

Waterbury has seen a string of brazen car thefts in recent months. Some ending in spectacular crashes. Those cars are not coming from just Waterbury.

“We’ve seen a great increase in the cars that we’ve recovered from outside the community, and we’ve seen an increase in the amount of recidivism that’s been engaged in by juveniles that are stealing these cars,” Spagnolo said.

Meaning it’s the same juvenile suspects over and over again. It’s a problem many wanted addressed in the legislature’s special session. Spagnolo says something has to change.

“There’s a limited amount of accountability that’s available through law enforcement and the judicial system for them right now, so it’s out of control, frankly,” Spagnolo said.

Stealing cars and juvenile crime are big, statewide issues that the police chief and others say require big, statewide solutions.

Police said they are reaching out to the community, asking residents to lock their cars and take the key fobs with them.

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