Investigators have determined that an East Hartford man who claims Aaron Hernandez shot him in February was with the former New England Patriots tight end on the night of a 2012 double homicide in Boston, a source familiar with the case has told The Courant.
Hernandez is being investigated as a suspect in the deaths of Daniel Correia de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, who were killed on July 16, 2012, after they left Cure Lounge, a nightclub in Boston's South End neighborhood. Alexander Bradley and the former Patriots tight end were in the area within hours of the 2 a.m. drive-by shooting, authorities have confirmed.
Bradley, a convicted drug dealer, spent much of the past month eluding authorities who sought him as a witness in the Boston investigation. Last week, he was captured in Hartford and ordered to appear Tuesday before the grand jury probing the double-slaying.
Charges have not been filed in the Boston case, and it is unclear what authorities suspect is the extent of Bradley's knowledge or involvement. He and Hernandez had been close friends; they are in the midst of a legal battle after Bradley in June filed a civil lawsuit alleging that Hernandez shot him in the eye after an argument at a Florida strip club in February.
Hernandez has been of interest to Boston investigators in the double-homicide since June, when police seized a car, rented in his name, that matched the description of the vehicle authorities said fled the scene after the killings. The SUV, with Rhode Island plates, was found during a search of a Hernandez family home in Bristol, conducted after Hernandez was charged with murder in the June 17 death of Odin Lloyd, the boyfriend of his fiancée's sister. It had been parked in the garage in Bristol for about a year.
Investigators in the Boston case also have obtained surveillance footage that shows Hernandez at the same nightclub as the victims before the shooting, law enforcement sources have said. The former Patriot apparently visited Cure Lounge on at least one other occasion — with Bradley in January.
Two weeks before he was shot in Florida, Bradley was arrested on a drunken driving charge in Massachusetts, and told the state trooper who pulled him over that he had recently left Cure. The January arrest report indicates that Hernandez had been out in Boston with him that night also. When the trooper approached the vehicle to arrest Bradley, the passenger in the front seat was yelling, "Trooper, I'm Aaron Hernandez — it's OK."
A prosecutor in the Odin Lloyd murder case has referred to Bradley as Hernandez's "former right-hand man" and said that prior to February's dispute, the two were "inseparable for months." After Bradley was shot, the prosecutor said, Hernandez replaced him with a new right-hand man, Ernest Wallace, who is alleged to be an accomplice in the Lloyd shooting.
It is unclear exactly what being Hernandez's "right-hand man" entailed, and the Bristol County District Attorney's office has declined to elaborate. But some similarities exist between Bradley and Wallace, who both have ties to the local drug scene and extensive criminal records in Connecticut.
Individuals in Bristol who are friends with the three suspects in Lloyd's slaying (Carlos Ortiz is the third) have said in interviews with The Courant that they do not know much about Bradley, other than that he was "Aaron's friend." Bradley said earlier this summer that he met Hernandez through the mother of his child, who lives in Bristol.
All records are sealed in the Boston case, so it is unclear whether searches of the home in Bristol at which police found the car and of the house Hernandez owned in North Attleborough, Mass., have yielded evidence. The grand jury last month heard testimony from another Connecticut man whose name surfaced in connection with a gun seized as evidence in the case.
Police who responded to the June 21 car crash in Springfield found the gun in the trunk of a car driven by a Bristol woman, Jai Lene Diaz-Ramos, who told authorities it ended up in her possession after a man named "Chicago" and his friends put belongings in her trunk. "Chicago" is the nickname of a Bristol man named John Andrew Alcorn.
In an interview last month, Alcorn denied any knowledge of the weapon, but said that he was friends with Hernandez.
Hernandez's attorneys have requested a stay in his Florida lawsuit, pending criminal action in Bristol County, Mass. They are engaged in arguments with Bradley's lawyer about whether sufficient parallels between the two shootings exist to merit a stay of civil proceedings.
Bradley previously testified before the Bristol County grand jury investigating the Lloyd case, because authorities were interested in "similarities" between the two shootings. The facts, as authorities have presented them, are similar: Both men were shot late at night after leaving a club; both men were in a car prior to their shooting; and both were found in an off-road area – Lloyd in an industrial park, and the wounded Bradley in an alley near a John Deere store.