Police are searching for a person of interest who is wanted for questioning after a woman was struck and killed by a stray bullet while in her home in Waterbury over the weekend.
The woman who was struck is the mother of a Puerto Rican Olympian and she was sewing in a front room of her home when the shooting happened on Saturday around 1:15 p.m., according to the athlete and police.
Police believe Mabel Martinez, 56, was an innocent bystander and the intended target was apparently a man walking outside her home in the City of Waterbury. He was wounded in the leg and survived.
After he was released from the hospital, authorities said the man was brought to the police department and questioned. Investigators said they determined the shooting was a drug-related incident with a white Acura and a black Honda involved.
According to police, a 22-year-old man from Waterbury who authorities said is a convicted felon is the owner of the white Acura involved in the shooting. On Saturday night, officers found the car and the owner. He was interviewed and no further information was provided.
The owner of the black Honda has been identified as 34-year-old Levi Brock, of New Haven, who investigators said is also a convicted felon. His car was found in New Haven and authorities are currently doing forensics on the vehicle. A gun was also found inside of the car, they added. At this time, Brock is wanted for questioning in connection to the shooting and is considered a person of interest.
No arrests have been announced.
Mabel Martinez was the mother of Yarimar Mercado Martinez, a rifle shooter on the Puerto Rico Olympic team who competed in the summer Olympics last year and in 2016.
Mercado Martinez, 27, expressed her anguish in social media posts.
“Why you? Why this way? You were just sitting in your little house sewing, as you always did,” she wrote in Spanish.
“Two days ago you called me with excitement, asking me to save the date and help you prepare to renew your wedding vows with daddy in Puerto Rico,” she said Sunday. “There are so many things I still needed to learn from you ... I was so far away without being able to do anything, I couldn’t even say goodbye to you.”
She wrote that the family intends to bring her mother’s body to Puerto Rico “so her friends and family can say goodbye.”
“I apologize to Puerto Rico because even if I wanted to, I really can’t compete, my place is with my family,” she wrote.
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A message seeking comment was left Monday for Mercado Martinez.
The athlete flew out of Brazil late Sunday and has arrived in Connecticut, according to Gilberto Hernández, president of the Puerto Rico Shooting Association, the sport’s governing body in the U.S. territory.
Hernández said it’s not clear when the body would arrive for burial in Puerto Rico, adding that the shooting association is helping pay a portion of the funeral costs.
“We trust that she will overcome this,” he told The Associated Press. “She can count on us. ... The doors of the association are always open.”
Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo said investigators believe the shooting was drug-related and had nothing to do with Mabel Martinez.
“This was definitely a random, tragic act of violence,” he told the AP. “She was in her house. She’s not the intended target.”
Spagnolo said relatives were extremely distraught, including Mabel Martinez’s husband, whom he described as inconsolable.
He said the investigation has been “very, very active” since Saturday.