By Alexis Taylor
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
Documents newly released by authorities have provided details on why investigators believe former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez may have been present not just for the murder last June of Odin Lloyd, but also when two individuals were gunned down in a 2012 drive-by shooting.
Search warrant documents filed with the State of Connecticut Superior Court and first published by The Hartford Courant allege that a vehicle owned by the former football star was present when Daniel Abreu, 29, and Safiro Texeira Furtado, 28, were killed in Boston during the early morning hours of July 16, 2012.
The documents do not state that Hernandez was directly involved with the murders, or suggest a possible motive, but represent the clearest link yet between Hernandez and the shootings. Hernandez has been charged with Lloyd’s murder and is currently awaiting trial.
The two victims were among five occupants inside a grey BMW that had just left a Boston nightclub, Cure. The vehicle, driven by Abreu, stopped for a traffic light at the intersection of Shawmut Avenue and Herald Street in Boston’s South End.
According to statements made by 25-year-old Aquilino Freire, who survived gunshots to both arms in the incident, an SUV pulled up on the right side of the BMW. Freire noticed nothing out of the ordinary with the vehicle, and said he observed a driver and a passenger in the backseat who appeared to be laughing moments before gunshots rang out.
Two eyewitnesses, co-workers Donald Gobin and Brian Quon, told police the SUV was either a “Nissan Pathfinder or a silver Toyota 4-Runner” being driven by a “Black male or dark skinned Hispanic male with short hair.”
Seconds before the shooting the two men, who worked at a nightclub in the area, stopped at a light on Shawmut Avenue when an SUV with Rhode Island plates pulled up. They said the SUV then ran the light at which they were waiting, only to stop at the next intersection and open fire on the BMW.
Boston police initially had few leads, and sought the public’s assistance in identifying the vehicle. A break in the case finally came in June 2013, when police began investigating Hernandez for the murder of Odin Lloyd, whose body was found on June 17 in an industrial area near the Hernandez mansion.
“At this time, detectives recalled that in previously viewing the video footage from Club Cure on the morning of July 16, 2012, an individual clearly recognizable as Aaron Hernandez is observed entering the club at approximately the same time as the victims,” police said in court documents.
Within a week, a witness claiming to have “accidentally” come into information linking the two cases contacted Massachusetts State Police. Sharif Hashem, a security supervisor at another Boston nightclub, Rumors, said he learned significant details from a patron about how a double homicide involving an SUV with Rhode Island plates was linked to Lloyd’s death. His information caused detectives to take a closer look at Hernandez’s movements the night Abreu and Furtado were murdered.
“Video surveillance from the Tufts parking garage shows Hernandez arrive at 12:04 a.m., driving a silver 2006 4-Runner, with a clearly visible license plate, 635035,” read the documents.
Hernandez and a male acquaintance then enter Cure and move into a surveillance-free area in the lower level of the club, before returning upstairs where the Patriots tight end “quickly” downed two drinks and made an exit. The two men are seen leaving the garage at 1:17 a.m. in a silver Toyota 4-Runner, but they would return a short time later.
According to court documents, exactly one hour later the same vehicle is visible on multiple surveillance tapes circling the block as the victims prepare to leave Cure. Gerson Lopes and Raychides Sanchez, the other two men in the BMW with Freire, Furtado and Abreu, wait on the sidewalk as Abreu pulls the car around.
“The two loops around the block by the Toyota 4 Runner near the club and the parking garage are captured on two separate video surveillance systems,” authorities state in the court documents. “Other traffic is passing the Toyota 4-Runner due to its decreased speed.”
Within ten days of the Lloyd murder, detectives tracked down the Toyota 4-Runner. The vehicle was determined to be a gift to Hernandez for promotional work he performed for a car salesman, and was found locked inside a garage on a property belonging to Hernandez, with a layer of cobwebs, dirt, and a dead battery.
According to the documents, there is no surveillance footage of the double homicide itself. Police have also not determined the identity of the shooter in that case, although detectives have identified Alexander “Sherrod” Bradley as the man accompanying Hernandez on the night of the murders.
Bradley is currently incarcerated, but has placed phone calls relating to the investigation which authorities believe are suspicious. In their Dec. 11 search warrant, detectives seek access to jailhouse phone calls taped in early October that could possibly reveal more information about the murders.
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