NEW BRITAIN — A man charged in connection with the 2017 murder of a 25-year-old hotel clerk appeared in New Britain Superior Court this week.
Rahheem McDonald, 37, is charged with murder, criminal possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm without a permit and possession of a high-capacity magazine. He is accused in the shooting death of Pratikkumar Jagani, who was found dead at the Days Inn, 2387 Berlin Turnpike, around 2:30 a.m. on July 2, 2017. Jagani, of Berlin, was the night clerk at the hotel.
During the Wednesday court appearance, McDonald’s case was continued to Aug. 13, according to the state judicial website. He is held on $2 million bond.
Police found Jagani behind the clerk’s desk with a gunshot wound to the head. Security video shows McDonald speaking briefly to Jagani before shooting him three times, according to McDonald’s arrest warrant. McDonald was seen on video running from the motel.
A short while later, state police discovered McDonald was in custody in North Haven after a collision on the Hartford Turnpike. North Haven police said McDonald struck another car, causing it to roll over and injuring two people. McDonald fled on foot and was found by police walking in the woods.
McDonald told police he checked in to the hotel in Berlin to get away from Waterbury and people who wanted to harm him, the warrant said.
McDonald said when he went up to Jagani there were two children at the front desk, so he told them to go back to their room because he believed a “shootout” was going to take place, the warrant said. McDonald said once the children left, he asked Jagani to call 911, but Jagani refused. McDonald told police he believed Jagani was assisting in setting him up, so he shot Jagani.