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‘Gang hunter’ arraigned in murder of 12-year-old

December 26, 2018

BRIDGEPORT - They were out hunting members of the “BGs” -the Blitz Gang.

Police said 18-year-old Tajay Chambers, 16-year-old Alexander Bolanos, a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old had never met the members of the supposed rival gang. They had only traded insults on Facebook and Snapchat.

Chambers later told detectives that he didn’t know Clinton Howell was only 12 years old and not a member of any gang when he fired a 9mm handgun at Howell and his cousin on Dec. 18, killing Howell.

“I didn’t know he was 12 years old,” police said he repeated.

On Wednesday afternoon Bolanos was the first to be arraigned in Superior Court in connection with Howell’s death. Chambers is to be arraigned Thursday and the cases of the 14 and 12-year-old are being processed in state juvenile court.

More than a dozen members of Howell’s family, some wearing T-shirts of their murdered loved one, sat grim-faced in the back of the courtroom as Bolanos was led in by a half-dozen judicial marshals.

The chains about his ankles jingling as he rocked side to side, Bolanos stared up at Superior Court Judge Tracy Lee Dayton seemingly unfazed by his surroundings.

Asked by the judge if he has a guardian, Bolanos let out a sigh and responded, “yeah, my mother” as a woman came up and stood near him.

Although a minor under the law, the judge announced that Bolanos was being treated as an adult because of the severity of the charges, conspiracy to commit murder, second-degree larceny and carrying a pistol without a permit.

Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Cornelius Kelly urged the judge to impose a high bond pointing out that Bolanos had been wearing an electronic monitoring anklet when he is accused to handing the gun to Chambers as they approached their victims in a stolen sports utility vehicle.

Bolanos and Chambers were previously charged with assaulting a student at Central High School. At the time of his arrest in that case Kelly said Bolanos spit on police.

Bolanos’ lawyer, Vincent Noce, urged the judge for some leniency for his client who was staring at a spot on the ceiling.

“This is about as serious and senseless case I have ever seen,” the judge retorted. She then ordered Bolanos held in lieu of $1 million bond.

“He (Bolanos) is treating this like a joke,” Howell’s father, Carlton Howell complained later in the lobby of the Golden Hill Street courthouse. “He was smirking, he looked around and was smiling and that’s not funny.”

Howell’s mother, Cynthia Dawkins, appeared on the verge of tears. “We just want the justice he deserves,” she said.

Shortly after 9 p.m. on Dec. 18, police responding to gunshots on Willow Street found Howell lying at the front doorstep of his home with a gunshot wound in his chest.

Police said Howell’s older cousin, who is not being identified, told detectives that he and Howell were walking home from the corner store when a dark-colored SUV drove by them three times. On the third pass, Bolanos, who was driving, yelled out “bitch.”

The cousin pulled out a pellet gun and fired at the SUV which then made a U-turn and head back towards Howell and his cousin, police said. As it got close the witness told police that someone in the SUV fired at them.

Police said the cousin told them he had been having an ongoing dispute with Bolanos who he had never met but had communicated with on Facebook and Snapchat.

Police said earlier that evening the four defendants had stolen a gray Ford Escape.

Chambers, who police said confessed to killing Howell, told them that while driving around in the SUV he received a Snapchat video on his phone from Howell’s cousin, a member of the rival BG’s gang. In the video the cousin showed the Willow Street sign which he took to be a dare or challenge.

“They just hit me, they are on Willow,” he said he told the others. After the cousin shot at them with the pellet gun, police said Chambers told them handed him the 9mm pistol.

“I extended my hand out the rear passenger window and fired twice,” police said he told them.

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