UPDATED: Suspect in fatal shooting of Joey Gingerella captured
Groton — Town police said Tuesday that the suspect in the Sunday morning shooting death of Joey Gingerella outside Ryan’s Pub has been captured.
Police on Sunday named Dante Hughes, 30, of Groton, as a suspect in the murder that happened in the parking lot of Ryan’s Pub. The establishment has existed in Groton for decades and was known as Sully’s Cafe until it changed hands in 2011.
Groton Town police Chief Louis J. Fusaro Jr. and Gingerella's family spoke during a news conference late Tuesday afternoon at the police department to "discuss the life and loss of Joey Gingerella."
Hughes was detained at the Canadian border, Fusaro said in a statement issued Tuesday evening, and was being held by Canadian authorities awaiting procedures to bring him back to the United States.
According to eyewitnesses, 24-year-old Gingerella was shot after a struggle with Hughes outside the Fort Hill Road pub not long after 1:30 a.m. Patrons said Gingerella had left the bar to try to stop Hughes, who was allegedly assaulting a woman in the parking lot.
In April, Hughes listed his address as 4 Waco Court when Groton Town police charged him with interfering with an officer, using a cellphone while driving and driving without a license. Local and state police on Sunday had surrounded that home, a two-family unit that also includes 2 Waco Court. Members of the state police Emergency Services Unit Tactical Team flung flash grenades — explosive devices meant to confuse suspects — into the home in case anyone was there.
That search did not turn up Hughes.
Gingerella had become a symbol of hope for those struggling with addiction after he went to treatment for opioid addiction early last year. His mother, Tammy de la Cruz, and his stepfather, former Groton Town Council member Joseph de la Cruz, are cofounders of Community Speaks Out, a group that helps people struggling with addiction find treatment and raises awareness about the issue of addiction. Joseph de la Cruz was elected to the state representative seat for the 41st District in November.
In addition to an outpouring of posts remembering the former Robert E. Fitch High School baseball player on social media, a couple of GoFundMe pages have popped up to help ease the family’s financial strain. And, on Tuesday night, The Exchange Bar and Grill in New London will host a vigil in Gingerella’s memory.
Johnny Saez, bar manager at The Exchange, said management decided to host the vigil because many of the bar’s employees were friends with Gingerella.
Gingerella, he said, spent much of Saturday at The Exchange disc jockeying for the baby shower of Angel Adams, a bartender there, and Adams' partner Sammy Jones, who was Gingerella's cousin.
“He’s always been one to be selfless and go the extra mile for a friend or for a stranger,” Saez said. “He certainly touched a lot of people and will be missed by many.”
The vigil, which begins at 9 p.m., will run in conjunction with the bar’s karaoke night. Saez said he expected the candle lighting on the back deck would begin at 10 or 10:30 p.m.
The bar will be collecting donations for the family.
In a joint statement, members of the de la Cruz, Johnson and Gingerella families described Joey Gingerella as a man who was dedicated to helping people and thanked the community for its support.
“Joey Gingerella brought a surplus of light and love into the world,” they wrote. “His infectious joy would fill whatever room he was in. We will miss him terribly."
In his own statement, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, called Gingerella’s murder “senseless.”
"The senseless slaying of Joey Gingerella is a terrible loss for his family and the Groton community,” he said. “His courageous public battle with addiction — which he was winning — was both an example and inspiration to us all."
On Monday, Emma Palzere-Rae, director of development and communications for Safe Futures, advised those who witness domestic violence or somebody being assaulted to notify police.
There are factors to consider, she said, but in most cases abusers shouldn't be confronted.
"It is tough because we do want to help," Palzere-Rae said. "But abuse can be a very dangerous situation, as this shows."
She said Safe Futures' 24-hour hotline, (860) 701-6000, can be used in many ways to aid a victim in getting help before violence escalates.
Victims, whether they're in need of housing or simply curious about whether a relationship they're in could become an abusive one, can call for help or advice.
Friends and family members can call, too, if they know someone who's in an abusive relationship but refusing to acknowledge it.
All of the nonprofit's programs, listed at www.safefuturesct.org, are free and confidential.
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