Suspect in New London murder attempt faces added shooting charges

A 23-year-old man facing attempted murder and illegal firearms charges in a March shooting inside a gas station on Broad Street in New London has been charged with another shooting that took place hours earlier on Clover Court.

New London police served Taj Johnson, 23, with a new arrest warrant when he appeared Tuesday in New London Superior Court on the original charges. The new charges are two counts of criminal possession of a firearm, first-degree reckless endangerment and illegal discharge of a firearm.

Detectives allege in an arrest warrant affidavit that Johnson discharged a stolen .380-caliber Colt semi-automatic pistol in the area of 20 Clover Court shortly after 9 p.m. on March 11. Officer Jordan Salas, who was looking for an armed robbery suspect, was flagged down by a witness who said Johnson had fired two shots in the air and run away, and that Johnson had just robbed somebody. Salas found a spent shell casing on the ground and stood by until detective William Pero retrieved it. The officers were unable to locate Johnson or speak further with the witness.

On March 12 at 1:37 a.m., the police allege that Johnson shot a man in the back inside the Gulf gas station, formerly known as the Ravi Petro Mart, at 290 Broad St. The victim of the shooting was taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and later flown by helicopter to Yale New Haven Hospital with serious injuries. He survived.

Several witnesses identified Johnson as the shooter, and the incident was recorded on a video surveillance camera.

At 11:33 a.m., officers were called to 63 Huntington St. for a report of two men fighting. The caller said one of the men displayed a handgun during the fight. Witnesses described the gunman, and police said they located the suspect — Johnson — as he walked toward the intersection of Crystal Avenue and State Pier Road. Police took him into custody and found the stolen handgun in his right front coat pocket, according to the affidavit.

Testing at the state forensic laboratory confirmed that shell casings recovered from Clover Court and from inside the gas station had been fired from the same gun.

Johnson is being held in lieu of $851,000 at the Hartford Correctional Center and is due back in court on Oct. 16.

k.florin@theday.com

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