INSIDE LOOK: Forensic Science Examiners Analyze Firearms DNA In Weekend Shooting Spree

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It’s the forensic analysis after every shooting that helps investigators build their criminal cases and a database that stands 42,000 forensic images strong of Connecticut’s shootings.

“It’s looking at the firing pin impression, it’s looking at the bridge face mark and the injector mark on it,” Lucinda Lopes-Phelan, deputy director of identification at the Division of Scientific Services said.

Lopes-Phelan said she and her team of forensics science examiners are set to receive the firearms evidence from the recent Memorial Day Weekend shooting spree that spanned more than seven locations across Southington and the state Capitol.

“They look through all the casings and they select the best representative sample of it and they enter it into what’s called the NIBIN acquisition station,” Lopes-Phelan said.

Lopes-Phelan explained the station then takes a 3D image of bullets or casings, uploads it and then sends it to the NIBIN network database to correlate the images and find the best matches or leads within the network.

“When they find something that looks similar they issue out what’s called a NIBIN lead. The agency then gets an email notification from us instantly,” Lopes-Phelan said.

“We’re not here to exculpate or inculpate our evidence stands on its own,” Dr. Guy Vallaro, director of the Division of Scientific Services said.

Vallaro said the number of firearms submission requests continues to grow, pointing out there was a 100% increase in firearms submission requests from 2020 to 2021.

“What becomes of the evidence and the information that we give is meaningful to the criminal justice system,” Vallaro said.

It’s forensics work like this that recently earned the division a perfect accreditation score. Vallaro said his team performs forensic testing for drug chemistry, toxicology, biology, trace evidence, firearms/toolmarks, latent prints questioned documents and digital and multimedia evidence, and its technology is about to expand beyond its walls.

“The beauty of it is it’s not only as a 24/7 but the results are in 90 minutes,” Vallaro said.

Vallaro said starting next month trained police officers will be able to use rapid DNA technology kiosks outside the division at all hours to perform DNA analysis on major crimes. The division will also soon roll out a new NIBIN kiosk and mobile van that will allow trained officers to enter firearms evidence quickly and cut out the legwork of driving it up to division in Meriden for analysis.

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