HARTFORD, Conn. -- Aaron Hernandez, the former NFL star already facing murder charges in a shooting last year, was indicted for murder Thursday in a 2012 double homicide, accused of stalking and ambushing the victims following a "chance encounter" at a Boston nightclub.
Two men were killed and a third injured in the July 16 drive-by shooting, which occurred nine days before the former New England Patriot tight end reported for preseason camp.
In announcing the seven-count indictment, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said Hernandez was the gunman who killed Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado, after waiting outside the bar for more than an hour until the victims left, following them in his SUV, pulling up beside their car at a stoplight, and firing several shots at their vehicle.
A few hours before the shooting, Conley said, the victims arrived at Cure nightclub around the same time as Hernandez and a friend, who has been identified in court documents as East Hartford native Alexander Bradley.
Conley said the encounter triggered a series of events that led to the murders, but declined to say what happened inside the bar and what, if anything, the men argued about. Hernandez had two drinks in the 20 minutes he stayed at the club, according to court records.
Surveillance footage shows Hernandez driving out of a nearby parking garage in a silver Toyota 4Runner with Rhode Island license plates around 1:30 a.m., with Bradley in the front passenger's seat.
Conley said the victims left the nightclub at about 2 a.m. and got into their car.
"Unbeknownst to them Hernandez was following in the SUV," he said.
When the victims' car pulled up to a stoplight at the corner of Shawmut and Herald streets, Conley said, Hernandez pulled his SUV up next to them and opened fire on the car. Three other men were in the backseat, and two of them escaped unharmed. Abreu and Furtado were pronounced dead at the scene.
"This case has never been about Aaron Hernandez but about the two victims who were stalked and murdered on the streets that they called home," Conley said, adding that initial reports that Abreu and Furtado were gang-affiliated were false.
Six weeks after the shooting, Hernandez signed a $40 million contract extension with the New England Patriots. He played 10 games in 2012, catching 51 passes. His career was destroyed the following offseason, when he was arrested for murder in the June 2013 shooting death of Dorchester native Odin Lloyd.
Hernandez will likely be arraigned on the Boston charges next week, Conley said.
Bradley, who last year was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury, was not charged. He is no longer friends with Hernandez; the two men are fighting each other in court after Bradley filed a lawsuit accusing Hernandez of shooting him in the eye in February 2013.
Tanya Singleton, Hernandez's cousin, was indicted on criminal contempt of court charges in the Boston case. Conley said those charges stem from Singleton refusing to appear before the grand jury investigating the double homicide, even after she had been granted immunity.
Conley said the big breaks in the Boston investigation came last June, after Hernandez was charged in the Lloyd shooting. Two other Bristol men, Carlos Ortiz and Earnest Wallace, also face murder charges in that case.
Authorities investigating Lloyd's death discovered the silver SUV used in the Boston homicide while executing a search warrant of a Bristol home owned by Hernandez's uncle. Family members told police the SUV had been sitting in the garage for nearly a year untouched, court records show.
The second break came when Springfield, Mass. police responding to a car crash found a .38 caliber pistol, later identified as the murder weapon in the Boston slaying, in the trunk of a car driven by a Bristol woman, Jai Lene Diaz-Ramos.
She told authorities that the gun ended up in her possession after a man nicknamed "Chicago" and his friends put belongings in her trunk. "Chicago" is the nickname of a Bristol man named John Andrew Alcorn, who is related to Tanya Singleton's late husband, Thaddeus Singleton. Massachusetts authorities were interested in interviewing Thaddeus Singleton, but he died in a car crash last June.
After Hernandez's arrest in the Lloyd case, North Attleboro police received a tip from an employee of Rumor nightclub, the Boston establishment that Hernandez and Lloyd visited two days before Lloyd's death and the location at which prosecutors say the two men had a disagreement that eventually led to Lloyd's shooting.
Sharif Hashem, a security supervisor at Rumor, phoned North Attleboro police last June 22 and claimed to have information that the Lloyd shooting and the Boston double homicide were related, according to previously released courts documents. He told authorities a patron of Rumor nightclub "accidentally spilled the beans in front of me."
Conley said because of the pending case in another county, and the fact that Hernandez had not been arraigned yet on the Boston charges, he couldn't provide more details about the investigation.
"In a week or so when the man who pulled the trigger is arraigned in court, you will hear more details about what happened," Conley said.
Conley said the grand jury has been investigating the Boston slayings for nearly two years. He said more than 80 individuals testified and the report is more than 1,200 pages. Conley also said the grand jury is still investigating the shooting and more charges could be coming. He would not comment on Bradley's status.
Bradley was incarcerated at Hartford Correctional Center last fall, charged as a fugitive witness after he avoided authorities who tried to subpoena him to appear before the grand jury probing the double slaying.
Police then obtained a search warrant to access recordings of phone calls he made from prison after a Department of Correction official told a Bristol detective that Bradley was discussing details of the Boston homicide investigation on those calls, which were made between Oct. 4-15.
Bradley is currently being held at the Cheshire Correctional Center on gun charges unrelated to the Massachusetts murders. He was arrested by Hartford police in February after, they charge, he fired several shots into the front of a nightclub following a fight outside the bar.
The grand jury returned the indictment Thursday, charging Hernandez with two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of armed assault with intent to murder, one count of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, and one count of unlawful firearms possession. The former Patriot has spent the past 11 months behind bars at a jail in North Dartmouth, Mass.
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