On Sunday, Feb. 10, Middletown residents Israel Dandrade, 31, and Tyrese Lockhart, 25, were shot and killed at a Cromwell sports bar located less than six miles from the University. Police have charged Middletown resident Antonio Inglis, 19, with the murders. He could face the death penalty. As funerals for the victims take place this week, the obscure details surrounding the murders leave family and friends shocked and confused.
The murders occurred just four days before recently-elected First Selectman Jeremy Shingleton suspended Cromwell's veteran police chief, a decision that had many Cromwell residents up in arms.
According to The Hartford Courant, a reggae dance night at restaurant/bar Cocktails on the Green turned fatal at about 1:30 a.m. when Inglis and Lockhart began fighting on the dance floor. After Dandrade, who was DJing the event, told the men to stop fighting, he attempted to separate them, and Inglis began shooting. Lockhart was shot at close range in the head and died at the scene, while Dandrade, who was shot through the eye, later died at Hartford Hospital. A third man, 24-year-old Kenneth Lewis of West Hartford, was barely missed by another bullet. Although Inglis managed to exit the bar during the chaos that ensued, he was found in Portland later on Sunday, where he was arrested.
Left in the wake of the murders are the friends and family of Dandrade and Lockhart, who characterize them as devoted friends and family men.
“They were both just great fathers and good guys,” said a very close friend of both victims who wished to remain anonymous. “They had tons of friends. I can't say anything bad about either of them.”
Dandrade, who lived less than two miles from the University, was passionate about DJing, and hosted a weekly show on Middletown's public access television station. He left behind five children, who are still having difficulty coping with their father's death.
“When I saw [Dandrade's family] at the wake, they said they can't even cry,” the friend said. “They can't believe that it happened. I still can't believe it.”
The Hartford Courant reported that Lockhart had two children, although the friend said he has three.
“All I keep thinking about is that [Inglis] left eight kids with no father,” the friend said.
According to The Middletown Press, the homicides were the first in the history of the Cromwell Police Department, and the first homicide within the town in at least 25 years (the Cromwell Police Department celebrated its 25th anniversary this year). Despite the Department's success in promptly arresting a suspect, not everyone congratulated the police department for their work. The day after the murders, First Selectman Shingleton asked 16-year police chief and 32-year Cromwell police officer Anthony Salvatore to demand the resignation of Captain Roy Nelson, a Cromwell police officer of 25 years, when Salvatore refused to do so, Shingleton promptly sent him an e-mail suspending him.
As Shingleton explained to angry Cromwell residents, who called for his impeachment at a Wednesday community meeting on Feb. 13, Salvatore has not been fired, but “suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation.”
It is also unclear whether the shooting was spontaneous or if Inglis went to the bar that night intending to fight with Lockhart.
“The guy that shot them was going there looking for somebody and we still don't know who,” the friend said. “Nobody knows if he was actually going after Tyrese. We don't know how the argument started. No one really knows much of anything.”
According to a person who was close to Lockhart, the victim did not go to the club expecting a confrontation.
“He was just there to have a good time,” said another anonymous source.
Also unknown is how Inglis, who is underage, was able to get into the bar. Inglis is currently being held in jail on $5 million bail.
At Inglis' arraignment at the Middletown Courthouse last Monday, he was charged with first degree assault, illegal possession of a firearm, two counts of murder, and capital felony. He was also informed by Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford that the capital felony charge could mean a life sentence without parole or the death penalty.
For the mutual friend of the victims, a death penalty sentence would be far from a happy ending.
“I would rather him just get life just so he has to live with what he did every day,” said the mutual friend. “I wouldn't even want them to kill him.”