Double Slaying Brings Hartford's Homicide Total To 30 For The Year
CHRISTINE DEMPSEY and DAVID OWENS
October 15, 2009
HARTFORD — - The city's 29th and 30th homicides of the year took place early Wednesday on Whitmore Street in the South End.
Leida "Flaka" Franqui was on a cellphone with her sister shortly before gunfire killed Franqui and a friend as they walked down the street from her home, her father said.
Franqui, 23, told her sister that some people had been bothering them, Hector Franqui said. He spoke in front of his home at 64-66 Whitmore St. as dozens gathered on the family's front lawn to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial.
There had been a confrontation, he said. "They took her phone, gave it back, took his phone, gave it back," Marilyn Quintero said. Quintero declined to talk about her last conversation with her sister, who was remembered Wednesday as a quiet but positive presence in the neighborhood.
Few had information about the young man who died with Franqui, who mourners said was known as "Manny" and "White Boy." Police have not identified him.
Officers said the two were found with gunshot wounds in front of 44 Whitmore St. and were pronounced dead at the scene. Police released little additional information.
Investigators are looking for two male suspects, one tall, one heavy-set, police said. They said a Honda or Toyota might have been involved.
The two fatal shootings brought to six the number of homicides since the beginning of October, and they were the third and fourth killings in the city in five days. There have been 30 homicides in the city so far this year, compared with 32 for all of 2008.
Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts said Wednesday that he has brought together police department commanders to consider strategies to fight the increase in killings. There will be a more visible police presence in the city, he said.
But most important, he said, detectives will work to bring those responsible for the killings to justice. Major crimes division detectives have been working around the clock responding to homicides and following leads, the chief said.
"We can't be responsible for how human beings treat each other," Roberts said. But police "won't stop investigating until we bring those responsible to justice."
He blamed the violence on a variety of factors. The poor economy is causing more robberies, and some of those are escalating to violence. There also are people, who, because of the lifestyle they choose, find themselves at risk, he said. He also blamed general incivility, something he brought up when an elderly man was struck by a car and seriously injured on Park Street as onlookers — captured by a surveillance camera — appeared to take no action. Angel Arce Torres eventually died of his injuries.
Police have been working hard to make Hartford safe, the chief added. He pointed to the seizure of 313 firearms so far this year as evidence of that effort. "The detectives are working very hard," he said.
But for police to be successful, they need help from the people they are charged with protecting and serving, Roberts said. "We encourage the public to give us a call," he said. Anyone with information about any of the homicides is asked to call Sgt. Rob Davis of major crimes at 860-757-4256 or the Hartford Crime Stoppers tip line at 860-722-8477.Meanwhile, mourners continued to gather Wednesday afternoon on Whitmore Street.
"I'm trying to be strong," Hector Franqui said. Asked if his daughter had any enemies, he said, "Everybody respected my daughter around here. She earned it."
A male friend suggested: "She got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time." He didn't want his name in the paper.
Jay Perez, Franqui's other sister, said that she, too, could not think of a reason why anyone would want to hurt her.
"She was humble," Perez said. "She didn't mess with no one. She didn't bother anyone."
"That's why everyone is shocked," said neighbor Lucy Morales. "Why would someone do something like that?"
"She grew up with my grandchildren," Morales said. "This is a nightmare."
A former Police Explorer, Franqui had been attending cosmetology school in East Hartford and was looking for a job, friends and family said. She thought nothing of doing friends' hair for free, they said.
"She was a sweetheart," said another friend as she sat next to Morales on her front porch on Whitmore Street. "I'm highly depressed because they took someone so good. She had a heart of gold."
Go to courant.com/hartfordhomicide for an interactive map of 2009 Hartford homicides.
Mothers United Against Violence will hold a prayer vigil today for the latest Hartford slaying victims. See Page A11.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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