A just-released search warrant provides new details into why Boston law enforcement authorities have identified accused killer and former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez as a suspect in a 2012 double homicide.
The document, filed as part of the probe and released Tuesday in Superior Court in Bristol, indicates police suspect Hernandez was in an SUV that circled a block waiting for the victims to enter their own vehicle before the 2 a.m. drive-by shooting. The silver SUV then 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. The warrant does not indicate whether there is evidence that Hernandez was the man who pulled the trigger.
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 Alexander Bradley –who filed a civil lawsuit accusing Hernandez of shooting him in the eye in February – at the same Boston nightclub.
The men in the gray BMW sprayed with gunfire that night have no apparent connection to Hernandez, a Bristol native. Nothing in the document— a search warrant application for phone calls Bradley made while he was in prison in Connecticut — suggests a motive for the killings. The search warrant is the first public record released in the Boston homicide investigation, and the first detailed narrative of Hernandez's actions that night.
Bradley was incarcerated at Hartford Correctional Center last fall, charged as a fugitive witness after he avoided authorities who tried to subpoena him to appear before the grand jury probing the double slaying. Police obtained a warrant to access recordings of phone calls he made from prison after a Department of Correction official told a Bristol detective that Bradley was discussing details of the Boston homicide investigation on those calls, which were made between Oct. 4 and Oct. 15.
Prosecutors in the Boston case have not filed charges, but The Courant previously has reported that Hernandez is the target of the investigation into the shooting that occurred a month before he signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension with the Patriots.
Hernandez became a suspect in the Boston slayings after being charged with murder in the June 17 death of Odin Lloyd near Hernandez's home in North Attleborough, Mass. The warrant indicates that authorities received an anonymous tip that, combined with their own memory of surveillance footage from the night of the shooting, led them to investigate the former tight end.
When a Boston detective learned of Hernandez's suspected involvement in Lloyd's death, he recalled noticing Hernandez at Cure Lounge when viewing surveillance footage the previous summer. Boston authorities then were informed of an anonymous call that North Attleborough police received from an employee of Rumor nightclub, the Boston establishment that Hernandez and Lloyd visited two days before Lloyd's death and the location at which prosecutors say the two men had a disagreement that eventually led to Lloyd's shooting.
Sharif Hashem, a security supervisor at Rumor, phoned North Attleborough police on June 22 and claimed to have information that the Loyd shooting and the Boston double homicide were related, according to the warrant released Tuesday. He told authorities a patron of Rumor nightclub "accidentally spilled the beans in front of me."
As a result, Boston police reopened their probe with a focus on Hernandez. They since have seized the murder weapon in the case and towed the silver SUV they believe was used in the Boston shooting from a Hernandez family home in Bristol.
Surveillance footage from just after midnight on July 16 shows Hernandez arriving at a parking garage in Boston, driving a silver Toyota 4Runner with Rhode Island plates, the warrant states. The same car was seized in June from 114 Lake Ave., the Bristol home owned by Hernandez's uncle, after authorities recovered it during a search for evidence in the Lloyd case.
A different camera later captured Hernandez and Bradley entering Cure immediately after the victims, according to the document. Hernandez downed two drinks, and left with Bradley 10 minutes later. Surveillance footage shows them leaving the garage in the 4Runner around 1:30 a.m., with Hernandez in the driver's seat and Bradley in the front passenger's seat.
What the two men did next is unclear. But by the time the victims left Cure an hour later, a car resembling the Toyota was back in the area. As the victims walked to the same garage, the 4Runner was captured on surveillance footage looping the block, circling the victims at a slow speed, in the lane closest to the sidewalk.
Boston police responded to a call of shots fired at 2:32 a.m. A witness who was in the car with the victims and injured in the shooting told authorities that the other vehicle contained a driver and a rear-seat passenger. Other bystanders who called police to inform them of the shooting Shawmut Avenue and Herald Street in Boston's South End gave descriptions that roughly matched those of Hernandez, Bradley and the car they were driving, according to the warrant.
Evidence recovered at the scene led authorities to believe that the murder weapon was a .38- or .357-caliber handgun. Police in June seized a .38-caliber pistol as evidence in the case, after it was found in the trunk of a car driven by a Bristol woman following a crash in Springfield. Jai Lene Diaz-Ramos, who faces three illegal firearms charges, told police friends put the gun in her car.
The 4Runner towed in June had been parked in the garage of the Bristol home for about a year, and was covered in cobwebs, authorities said. It was a demo model from a rental company that was given to Hernandez in exchange for the star tight end's doing promotions. Company representatives told authorities that they had contacted Hernandez's agent about the car, but had not heard back from him, the warrant released Tuesday indicates. A cousin of Hernandez who lives at the house told authorities the vehicle was "Aaron's" and nobody drove it.