Arrest warrant offers details of mall shooting
DANBURY — An arrest warrant for a teen charged Tuesday in connection with the Aug. 11 shooting at the Danbury Fair mall outlined for the first time what investigators learned following the incident that led to a sweeping lockdown and massive response from law enforcement.
Derek Sotelo, 18, of Danbury, was identified as being “part of the group that arrived at the mall intending to confront the group that included the 14-year-old male shooter,” Lt. Adam Marcus said in a statement on Wednesday.
The alleged 14-year-old shooter in the incident was charged after he turned himself in Aug. 16.
Marcus said Sotelo was seen on surveillance footage displaying a hammer as a weapon during the incident. A judge granted a warrant to charge Sotelo on Tuesday, and detectives took him in to custody at a Danbury residence.
Sotelo was charged with criminal attempt to commit second-degree assault, firstdegree reckless endangerment, inciting a riot, inciting injury to a person, risk of injury to a minor and breach of peace. His bond was set at $100,000.
The charges stem from the Aug. 11 shooting at the mall, where a 15-year-old girl was shot in the upper chest. Police from surrounding towns responded to help Danbury and state police lock down and evacuate the mall.
In Sotelo’s warrant, police provided previously unreleased details about the shooting and those involved, including what surveillance footage captured.
The shooting happened just outside of Macy’s second-floor exit into the mall, between Jenny’s Spa and Aeropostale, according to the arrest warrant. An officer reported finding a spent shell casing near Jenny’s Spa.
Macy’s surveillance video footage showed a group of seven people go into the store at 6:57 p.m. One of the people in the group seemed to be trying to “keep something secure in his waistband,” investigators wrote in the warrant.
The footage captured another group sitting on some chairs outside the Macy’s within the mall. When the first group comes out of Macy’s — at 6:58 p.m. — the footage, which has no audio, shows “things were getting heated” between the groups, the warrant read.
That’s when one boy gets up from a chair, walks backward toward Jenny’s Spa, pulls a gun from his waistband and fires one shot, investigators wrote in the warrant.
The individual from the first group, who was described as trying to keep something secure in his waistband, is seen on the footage with a hammer in his right hand. The warrant said he lunged toward the shooter before both individuals fled in opposite directions.
Around 7 p.m., about two minutes after the gunfire, five of the seven people in the initial group are seen on the surveillance video “rapidly exiting” Macy’s, the warrant read. The teen who appeared to be holding something in his waistband was seen on the footage running from the store, carrying an object that appears to be a hammer in his right hand, according to the warrant.
The 18-year-old, seen on surveillance footage wielding the hammer, was taken into custody on Tuesday, police said.
The victim, who initially would not give her name or information to police, eventually told officers she was in the mall with some friends, in Macy’s, and remembered ducking and getting hit with something, the warrant read. Danbury Hospital staff told police the girl suffered a fractured vertebrae. She was transferred to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford for further treatment. Her injuries were not considered life-threatening.
Marcus said investigators identified the 14-year-old alleged shooter, also a Danbury resident, and recovered the gun used in the shooting. A warrant was granted for the teen on Aug. 13. Three days later, accompanied by his parents and an attorney, he turned himself in at police headquarters. He was not named publicly given his age.
The investigation is ongoing.