Hartford police have arrested a man suspected of shooting and killing 16-year-old Felipe Lopez on April 24. Isaiah Benitez, 22, has been charged with murder and carrying a pistol without a permit.
Interim police chief Jason Thody expressed his condolences to Lopez's family who were present at a press conference with police Thursday.
“We know that even given the announcement today that that doesn't bring him back to you,” Thody said, “but we hope that it offers you some comfort knowing that the individual responsible has been brought to justice.”
According to police, Benitez and Lopez knew each other but officers did not say what spurred the shooting. They exchanged messages through their phones before meeting at 366 Sigourney Street in Hartford. An altercation followed.
Police say Lopez was then shot by Benitez multiple times then drove away before crashing at the intersection of Albany Avenue and Sigourney.
The shots were picked up by a ShotSpotter sensor.
Lopez' family believes he attempted to drive himself to the hospital. Less than an hour after being transported to St. Francis Hospital, Lopez was pronounced dead.
“I appreciate everything you guys did to find my son some justice,” said Alma Lopez, the victim’s mother. She stood with family members wearing white t-shirts with Lopez’s name, photo and “REST IN PEACE” printed on them.
Lopez was a former student at Windsor High School and the father of a 7-month-old daughter. He was killed just two days before he would have turned 17.
Benitez already had an active warrant for attempted murder, assault and carrying a pistol without a permit following a double-shooting in Hartford on St. Patrick's Day. Both the woman and the man who survived that shooting identified him.
Police arrested Benitez for charges related to the March 17 shooting on April 25 at a gas station in the South End before connecting him with the fatal shooting of Lopez the night before.
Police said there were separate investigations for both shootings and that they were not connected, beyond Benitez as the suspected shooter. Benitez is expected to appear in court Friday morning.
Lopez's murder was the 7th shooting homicide of the year in Hartford.