In court documents unsealed Thursday, law enforcement authorities say that Bristol native and former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez may have been the gunman in a July 2012 drive-by shooting that killed two men in Boston's South End.
In a 14-page affidavit for the search and seizure of a Toyota 4Runner, believed to be the suspect vehicle, detectives detailed their case against Hernandez, who they said was driving the car used in the double homicide. The silver SUV was recovered last June during a search of a Bristol home for evidence in the Odin Lloyd murder case.
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Hernandez faces a murder charge in Lloyd's 2013 slaying, but prosecutors in Suffolk County, Mass. have not filed charges in the Boston double homicide, which occurred a month before the former NFL star signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension with the New England Patriots.
Detectives wrote in the search warrant application that Hernandez was "operating the suspect vehicle" and "may have been the shooter" in the Boston killings. A warrant released last week revealed that Hernandez was driving the Toyota 4Runner earlier in the night.
Boston police seized the vehicle on June 28 from a Bristol home owned by Hernandez's uncle. They executed a search of the house for clothes Hernandez was seen on surveillance footage wearing the night of the incident, but did not find the items of clothing.
Authorities from North Attleboro, Mass. investigating Hernandez for his role in Lloyd's slaying discovered the car during a previous search of the 114 Lake Ave. home. The vehicle was covered in cobwebs and had been parked in the garage for about a year, police said.
It was a demo model from a rental company that was given to Hernandez in exchange for the star tight end's appearance in promotions, and company representatives told police that they had tried to contact Hernandez's agent about the car but had not received a response. A cousin of Hernandez who lives at the house told authorities the vehicle was "Aaron's" and nobody drove it.
Previously released court documents have outlined evidence that Boston authorities used to identify Hernandez as a suspect, including surveillance footage from the night of the crime and interviews with witnesses.
Other evidence detectives have gathered in the investigation was redacted in the warrant unsealed Thursday, which contained information previously disclosed in a search warrant return for recordings of prison phone calls that Alexander Bradley, who police say was with Hernandez on the night of the double homicide, made while he was incarcerated in Connecticut last fall.
Bradley in June filed a civil lawsuit accusing Hernandez of shooting him in the face last February. The two men previously were close friends, and surveillance footage shows them together the night of the double homicide, records indicate.
According to the court documents, Boston police believe Hernandez was in the SUV that circled a block waiting for the victims to enter their own vehicle before the 2 a.m. drive-by shooting. Witnesses told police that a silver SUV pulled up next to the victims' car at a stoplight and someone inside fired five or six shots in rapid progression, killing two and injuring one of the five men in the other car.
Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado were killed in the gunfire early on July 16, 2012, shortly after they left Cure Lounge with three of their friends. Earlier in the night, surveillance footage showed Hernandez and Bradley at the same Boston nightclub. The victims have no apparent connection to Hernandez, and nothing in the documents suggests a motive for the killings.
Boston police investigating the double homicide in 2012 recognized Hernandez on surveillance footage at the same nightclub as the victims, but apparently thought it was nothing more than a coincidence until they learned of the former tight end's potential involvement in a different homicide last June.
After Lloyd's death, authorities received an anonymous tip that the incidents were related. The tipster, who was identified as an employee of the nightclub Hernandez and Lloyd visited two days before Lloyd's death, provided a level of information that led authorities to believe he was credible.
Sources have told the Courant that police last June also seized the murder weapon used in the Boston slayings. The .38 caliber pistol was found in the trunk of a car driven by a Bristol woman after a multi-vehicle crash in Springfield.