Warrant Signed for Suspect in New Haven Nightclub Murder

Police have a warrant for Adrian Bennett.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCConnecticut.com, New Haven Police
    Police are searching for Adrian Bennett

    New Haven police have identified a man suspected of killing a woman inside a nightclub this weekend.

    Erica Robinson, 26, was shot and killed early Saturday morning inside Key Club on Saint John Street.

    She was one of six people shot at the club and police have identified the suspect as 28-year-old Adrian  Bennett, also known as "Bread." Court records show that Bennett has prior convictions on drug and weapons charges.

    His last known address was 460 Howard Avenue in New Haven and police said he is to be considered armed and dangerous.

    "I asked him to turn himself in," said New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman.

    Police believe Robinson was an innocent bystander.

    “We believe that the victim of the homicide and at least the majority of the people who got shot that night were certainly not the intended targets of the shooter. We believe we know who the intended target was,” said New Haven Police Officer Dave Hartman.

    A warrant for Bennett charges him with murder, five counts of assault in the first degree and criminal possession of a firearm. Bail has been set at $3 million.

    He has short hair, a receding hairline and brown eyes. He is 5'7" tall and weighs between 180 and 200 pounds.

    This was the fourth homicide at a New Haven nightclub, where police say a hip hop night was being promoted. Police said those type of promotions can attract violent people. While police are cracking down on clubs in the downtown area, it's hard to target individuals who will turn violent inside every establishment.

    “It's very difficult to understand a personal beef between two people that's going to occur inside an adult entertainment club across the City,” said Hartman.

    Friends of Robinson remember her as a young woman who always had a smile on her face.

    “Always energetic, always wanting to have fun. That was her personality ever since I've known her, she's always been a happy person,” said Ismael Melendez, a family friend.

    Melendez is also the store manager at Jimmy's, a hip hop store in West Haven, where Robinson was selling a line of clothing she designed. On Saturday, the entire line sold out.

    “We sold out of it since her death. We had it out here on the table, and it's all gone. We're trying to get some more in,” said Melendez.

    Robinson's friends don't blame the hip hop parties, but say something needs to be done about the people who have no regard for others and would fire a gun in the middle of a club. Police are still investigating how the gun was brought into the club in the first place.

    “There was no words for it because it was just a senseless act that happened,” said Melendez.

    Peter Forchetti, one of Key Club’s owners, did not want to comment on the incident other than to say the two club owners are very upset over what happened.

    While police search for Bennett, the city of New Haven is taking steps to crack down on and prevent further nightclub violence.

    "We're going to proceed with six pieces of legislation to the General Assembly as it relates to clubs," said New Haven Mayor John DeStefano.

    That legislation centers around the creation of an entertainment district with licensing and liquor permits, as well as proper security.

    DeStefano is also asking for the ability to shut down clubs for public safety reasons. He's calling for an injunction on the Key Club while police investigate the fatal shooting. The club owners have already closed it voluntarily.

    Esserman is also meeting with individual club owners to discuss safety measures.

    "Many of the club owners are nothing but cooperative and are engaged citizens of this community, but there are a few that I need to compel or convince to put public safety first," Esserman said.

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