MERIDEN — A relative of one of the men shot and killed last weekend said he was a loving father and hoped to go to school for auto mechanics.
“Michael Brown was another victim of Meriden’s gun violence ... a 20-year-old baby ... killed,” said a relative of Brown’s, Celines Rodriguez.
Michael Joseph Brown, 20, was killed during a double shooting on Saturday at the Citgo gas station, 54 S. Broad St. Police responded to the scene around 2:40 a.m. for a report of gunshots.
Officers found evidence of a shooting at the scene but no victims. A short time later, a local hospital reported treating two gunshot victims. One man, who has not been identified, suffered a single gunshot wound to his leg.
Brown succumbed to his injuries at the hospital, police said. According to police, the shooting stemmed from rival gangs targeting each other.
Celines Rodriguez said Brown was her son-in-law. He went to Maloney High School and played football for the Meriden Raiders.
Brown loved auto mechanics and hoped to attend technical school for mechanics. He has a 4-year-old son, Rodriguez said. She said he passed away at MidState Medical Center.
Rodriguez said Brown was not an active gang member and disputed the police account that the shooting involved rival gangs.
“He had a very big heart and loved his family very much. He enjoyed making his family and friends laugh. He enjoyed listening to old school R&B and hip hop music. His son was the light of his life,” Rodriguez said.
Mayor Kevin Scarpati said it is hard to lose a loved one, especially at a young age, and that many residents have concerns over the increase in gun violence.
“Rightfully there is a fear in many of our neighborhoods of what’s next, when is this going to stop, is it ever going to stop?” Scarpati said Wednesday. “It’s our job as leaders…to reassure our residents to the best of our ability that they are safe. It is difficult to do when incidents of gun violence and homicide are occurring on what I would argue is a somewhat frequent basis.”
Scarpati said police are working around the clock, canvassing neighborhoods, talking to the public, and looking for any video surveillance that may help in the investigations.
“We’ve got to take a multi-faceted approach to tackling this increase in crime,” Scarpati said.
The mayor believes the individuals involved are targeted. Local police are working with outside agencies on the investigations.
Scarpati said one of the problems is that when police make an arrest, the suspect is often released on bail. He said police have arrested one individual four times since the middle of August for serious charges.
“What we need is the Justice Department to realize that known offenders and criminals with prior convictions and rap sheets should not be released back to the general public hours or days after committing a crime,” he said. “Because we see what’s being done, they are committing more crimes.”
Scarpati said if there is a way in which the city can help deter gang activity, they will take every step possible. He asked residents to feel free to reach out.
Since June there have been a total of four homicides in the city. Giovanni Rodriguez, 24, died of a gunshot wound to the chest, outside the Comfort Inn on East Main Street early in the morning on June 21. Sammy Richard Ortiz, 24, died after being struck by a car and shot on Aug. 19 at the corner of Crown and Olive streets. Brown was killed on Saturday, and Casey Eric Schoonover, 34, was found dead on Foster Court on Sunday.