May 11, 2005
By MATT BURGARD, Courant Staff Writer
John Weaver said the Hartford
police cruiser stationed outside his home Tuesday made him
feel safe. But the blood stains that glistened in the sun on
his driveway reminded him that violence could claim him or
members of his family at any time.
Four days after a friend of his sons was shot and killed while
standing in the family's Branford Street driveway, Weaver said
Tuesday that his family is being targeted with violence because
his sons have agreed to testify against two men accused of murdering
another friend in February. Police sources agree that Friday's
killing is probably linked to a campaign of intimidation against
the Weaver family.
"They're not trying to intimidate us. They're trying to
eliminate us," Weaver said as a Hartford police officer
sat in a cruiser in front of his house - part of an around-the-clock
detail that began Friday night and was to continue until Weaver
and his family could be placed into a state witness protection
program. That was supposed to happen late Tuesday, Weaver said.
Weaver said his family is being threatened by a loosely formed
gang of young people who live along the Albany Avenue corridor
in the city's North End and go by the name Cripville. Police
sources said they were familiar with the gang, adding that the
department took the threat seriously enough to provide protection
for Weaver's family.
Police allege that two members
of the gang - Anthony "Little
Ant" Allen, 17; and Kevin "Maduke" Amos, 19, both
of Vine Street - shot and killed Lorenzo Morgan Rowe, a 15-year-old
Weaver High School honor student, in February as Lorenzo and
a group of friends were walking near Lorenzo's home on Branford
Weaver said his sons and nephews were among the group that witnessed
the shooting, and they agreed to testify against Allen and Amos,
who are charged with murder. Police said Lorenzo was an innocent
victim of an escalating feud over a girl, a feud in which he
was not involved. Lawyers for Allen and Amos could not be reached
Now the feud has apparently claimed another victim: 20-year-old
Robert Banks, a family friend from East Windsor who was hanging
out with Weaver's sons in the family's driveway Friday, police
Weaver and his sons said Banks was a close friend of the family
who regularly visited.
Forty residents and activists from HOPE Street Ministries gathered
for a rally Tuesday at the scene of Banks' homicide to decry
After Lorenzo was killed,
his relatives and others familiar with the feud said the intended
shooting target was actually one of Weaver's seven sons, a
19-year-old who had somehow shown disrespect to a girl who
is a relative of one of the suspects. They said friends of
the suspects even threatened the son days after Lorenzo's slaying,
telling him, "You're next."
Weaver did not comment on the history of the feud Tuesday, but
vowed that his sons would still testify.
"We're going to do the right thing, no matter what," he
said. Still, he said, his family's determination is coming with
a terrifying cost.
As word has spread that his sons and nephews plan to testify
in the case against the two suspects, Weaver said he and his
family have become increasingly fearful as the sound of gunshots
has become more common on the streets near their home, which
is situated directly across the street from the house where Lorenzo
The Weavers' growing sense of menace gave way to terror about
8:30 p.m. Friday as two of his sons were hanging out with Banks
in the driveway. Weaver said three men in dark clothing emerged
from the backyard of a house next door and at least one began
firing at the group gathered in the driveway.
The shots struck down Banks and the three men ran off, Weaver
said. Banks was later pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital
and Medical Center. No arrests have been made in the killing
of Banks, and police would not comment on the case Tuesday.
Police officials have confirmed that the Friday night slaying
appears to have a connection to Lorenzo's murder in February.
Sources in the department said investigators believe the Weaver
family is being targeted for intimidation.
Weaver said he notified the police department that he would
like to take part in a state-run witness protection program after
he learned that the cruiser stationed in front of his house would
be discontinued this week. He said he was not sure how the program
would provide protection for him and his family, but said he
expected his family would be moved by the end of the night Tuesday.
Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano, whose office oversees
the witness protection program, said the program provides a variety
of options for people who feel threatened because of their status
"It can involve many different forms of protection," said
Morano, who declined to elaborate. "We really need to protect
people who stick their necks out. They didn't ask to be witnesses."
Members of Lorenzo's family, who are close to the Weaver family,
said they are outraged by the intimidation campaign to discourage
Weaver family members from testifying.
"We just want them to leave us all alone here," said
Dylan Jack, 21, Lorenzo's stepbrother. "This is all about
something that happened a long time ago and they need to let
it go. Too many people are being shot over something stupid."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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