The 18-year-old man charged with the murder of a 12-year-old Bridgeport boy faced a judge Thursday morning and according to newly obtained court documents, the suspect confessed to police.
Tajay Chambers, 18, was arrested earlier this week and charged with murder in the death of Clinton Howell.
Howell was shot to death outside his Bridgeport home on Dec. 18.
Three other juveniles have been arrested in connection to the shooting death of the seventh-grader on December 18.
At the request of the state’s attorney, Judge Tracy Lee Dayton agreed to set Chambers’ bond at $1 million dollars, saying “the charges are as serious as they get.”
Family and friends of Howell filled the courtroom during the arraignment.
“I know it could have easily been a cold case and that would have made the mourning a lot harder cause I know there a lot of families out here that have loved ones murdered that hasn’t been solved to this day,” Howell’s older brother Gamel Dawkins said outside court. “So it definitely helps a whole lot, it doesn’t bring my brother back.”
Chambers is charged with murder with special circumstances, murder, use of a firearm during the commission of a felony, illegal carrying or possession of a pistol or revolver without a permit, three counts of risk of injury to a child, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree larceny.
“I know the court system is going to do everything they can, but you know he’s still young, so I know he’s going to have a life to live after he serves his time, so most important thing is just getting help,” Dawkins said of Chambers.
Bridgeport police said Chambers was in a stolen newer dark gray Ford Escape with three juveniles, ages 12, 14 and 16, on the night of December 18.
According to court documents, Chambers told detectives one of the youths handed him a 9 mm handgun and he confessed to pulling the trigger.
“Chambers stated that he extended his hand out the rear passenger window and fired twice at W#1 who was now standing with a group of males while the car was still in motion,” the affidavit said. W#1 is identified in the affidavit as “witness 1” who is Howell’s cousin. Police have said they believe Howell was not the intended target of the shooting.
Chambers and the three other arrested juveniles told detectives they went to Willow Street after Howell’s cousin them a Snapchat video showing the street sign. Chambers told police “they understood this to be a dare or challenge” from the cousin who police said is part of gang known as the “BG’s” or “Blitz Gang.”
On the way back from the corner store with Howell, police said the cousin spotted the SUV and fired a pellet gun. The vehicle made a U-turn and that’s when the affidavit said Chambers shot the real gun, striking Howell in front of his home.
According to the affidavit, “Chambers stated “I didn’t know that he was 12 years old” referring to the victim.”
Howell, who was a student at the Bridge Academy in Bridgeport, died a short time later at the hospital.
In court, the judge said Chambers is not a United States’ citizen and that ICE has placed a hold on him. He is from Jamaica and has lived with family in Bridgeport for less than two years.
NBC Connecticut reached out to ICE for more information about Chambers’ immigration status, but an email response said no one is able to respond to the request because of the Federal government shutdown.
The 16-year-old, 14-year-old and 12-year-olds arrested in this care are facing charges including conspiracy to commit murder. The 12 and 14 year olds’ cases are being processed in juvenile court.
The 16-year-old had his arraignment Wednesday and according to the affidavit he spit in a police officer’s face when he was arrested.
“There is an allegation by the state that this has to do with gang involvement, can’t comment on whether or not that does exist but that is part of the state’s allegation,” said Frank Riccio Jr., the defense attorney for the 14-year-old.
Chambers and the 16-year-old are also charged with second-degree assault stemming from an Oct. 8th fight at Bridgeport’s Central High School, police said. The affidavit said the 16-year-old had already been wearing a monitoring bracelet and violated his probation curfew the night of Howell’s murder.
Both Chambers and the 16-year-old are due back in court for the homicide case on January 8. The judge has moved their cases to Superior Court Part A on Main Street.