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After string of shootings in Hartford, elected leaders sound off on why they're happening

Connecticut State Police announced Monday that Omar Cruz-Torres, 36, of West Haven was shot and killed on Interstate 84 in Hartford Friday.

Police say Cruz-Torres was a passenger in a car involved in a shootout on the highway.

Nelson Alejandro-Capo, 35, of East Hartford was seriously injured and transported to an area hospital.

The highway shooting was one of three shootings that happened in Hartford on Friday.

And a mix of state and local officials are weighing-in. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the incident was not a random act.

“This was clearly a targeted, very personal act of murder," Bronin said.

Bronin reacted to the incident that started in the afternoon on Newfield Avenue and briefly turned into one car pursuing the other onto I-84 in Hartford.

The incident led to criticism from State Rep. Vincent Candelora, who is the House Republican Leader in the General Assembly.

Candelora blamed Democrats for the incident, which Bronin characterized as politicizing the incident.

The suspects remain at large.

One advocate says the reasons for this and other shootings that day are more complex, but said easy access to guns is a key factor.

Bronin said state police are now investigating the incident and while no arrests have been made, Bronin said that does not mean there aren’t any tips coming in compared to other shootings.

But the incident does stand out, he said, because it could have been worse.

“To engage in that kind of violence on a highway in the middle of the afternoon shows a level of callousness and reckless disregard for life that is hard to fathom,” Bronin said.

Candelora said the incident is a sign more of these are to be expected.

“It's pretty horrific fact patterns that we're seeing. And I think we are starting, we will continue to see some sort of unique situations occurring,” Candelora said.

Candelora also attacked the Democrats for their crime policies, singling out criticism for an attempt to eliminate cash bail and mandating that misdemeanors for people arrested when they were juveniles to be wiped if they occurred between the years 2000 and 2012.

Police have not stated the suspects were juveniles for the I-84 shooting and even if they were, the records law would only apply to misdemeanors.

Bronin accused Candelora of using the incident for political gain.

“I think it's unfortunate that he's playing politics with public safety,” Bronin said, “It was a Democratic coalition of mayors working together with legislators from both parties and our Democratic governor that passed laws this past year that increased accountability for serious repeat firearm offenders.”

One advocate, John Lewis, the community liaison and outreach director for the CT Center for Nonviolence, said guns need to be addressed. Bronin said many of the weapons involved in the shootings were illegally acquired. An assault rifle was used in one shooting.

“One of the common things we have going on in any city that's experienced in murder or gun violence, is the gun, the gun really is the culprit here.”

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