The public’s unwillingness to share information is the only thing that separates Derby police from an arrest in connection to Saturday morning’s fatal shooting.
“There were at least 50 people in the bar that night. And there is not a single person who says they saw anything,” Derby police Lt. Justin Stanko said Monday afternoon.
Javon Zimmerman, 22, was shot twice in the parking lot at RJ’s Cafe at 148 Elizabeth St. at about 2 a.m. Saturday. He was taken to Griffin Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Carolyn Zimmerman, Javon’s mother, told the Valley Indy Monday morning that she thinks the shooter was one of Javon’s cousins.
“He’s our cousin. They grew up together here in Ansonia,” Carolyn Zimmerman said Monday morning of the man she suspects of killing her son. “His mother and my mother are first cousins,” she said.
She gave the Valley Indy the man’s name, which is not being published because he has not been charged.
Derby police would neither confirm nor deny the specific man as a suspect — but confirmed they are eying a suspect but do not have enough information for an arrest.
Stanko said police have been hearing the same story Zimmerman’s mother is telling.
“When enough people are pointing a finger at someone, that says something,” Stanko said. “Then you have to look at the physical evidence and start comparing the two and develop a suspect. But we need people to actually come forward. That means more than just offering an anonymous tip. An anonymous tip does not get an arrest.”
Stanko urged witnesses to talk to investigators, who will then take an arrest warrant application to Superior Court in Derby.
“We’re working this case very hard. We’ve probably worked 40 hours straight on this. But we also need the public’s help to solve this crime,” Stanko said. “Some people who were there know what happened. Some people who were there need to come forward. If they do, there will be an arrest.”
Derby police have established a dedicated line where witnesses can talk to investigators. The phone number is 203 619 1906. Information will be kept confidential.
Derby police are heading the investigation, with assistance from Ansonia and state police.
Code of Silence
The street’s code of silence in connection to Javon’s death may go hand-in-hand with the people he associated with.
He has several misdemeanor criminal convictions on his arrest record — and three felony charges pending stemming from a January drug arrest. He pleaded not guilty to the January arrest.
In 2010, Zimmerman was arrested on minor drug charges. He was picked up by police along with seven other defendants who police accused of orchestrating a drug and gun ring in the lower Valley. The group had tentacles that stretched into many other local crimes, police said at the time.
The group included Keyshon Zimmerman, Javon’s older brother. Keyshon was sentenced to four years in prison last May on an array of criminal charges connected to drug dealing and firearm thefts.
Derby police have said they believe Keyshon Zimmerman may have been part of a group connected to the murder of 25-year-old Rodney Trent Baldwin on Derby’s Hawthorne Avenue in 2009. No arrests were made.
Javon Zimmerman’s close friends include Roosevelt Scott, who was also arrested in 2010 on a bevy of gun and drug charges.
Scott pleaded not guilty to all charges. A jury trial could start in June in Superior Court in Milford.
Zimmerman’s mother, Carolyn, called Scott her son’s best friend and that Scott has remained out of trouble.
Those who knew Javon said he was on the periphery of any criminal activity and attributed any arrests to his youth.
The relative who Carolyn thinks shot her son has a publicly available Facebook page where he alludes to relationships problems he was having with a woman and serving jail time for other people’s “cases.”
On Sunday afternoon, Javon’s friends and family — including his mother — were at RJ’s Cafe, where they set up a memorial for Javon at the spot where he fell. The memorial included candles, flowers and photos of Javon and his two young children.
Zimmerman said people who gathered Sunday filled her in on the circumstances of the shooting.
“(Javon) was leaving the bar and he came up to my son. They had a few words and my son was saying ‘Go ahead, go ahead.’ Then (the suspect) pulled out the gun,” she said.
Zimmerman said she didn’t know why her son was shot. The cousin had been lashing out through social media, Zimmerman said.
“They say he’s just angry. He’s been going around on Facebook, threatening people and saying different things about people and what he’s going to do and who he’s beefing with,” she said. “I don’t know because I really don’t know those people.”
Stanko said the shooting appears to have been motivated by a long-simmering family dispute.
“The suspect went there and intended on killing him,” Stanko said.
No weapons were recovered at the scene.
Zimmerman, a mother of six, said her son was not the fighting type.
“You’d have to really push him into a corner to get him to react,” she said.
He grew up in Ansonia’s Riverside apartments, federally subsidized housing on Olson Drive.
“He was born right here in Griffin Hospital,” she said.
By the time Javon reached high school, the family moved to New Haven, Zimmerman said. Javon went to Wilbur Cross High School.
Zimmerman said Javon was a good father to his two young children — Jamir, 5, and Avanti, almost 2.
“He’s a good, respectable kid. He never disrespected anybody. He was easygoing,” Zimmerman said. “Everybody loved him.”
Javon was unemployed. He previously worked at Xpects Discounts in North Haven.
Zimmerman said she was scheduled to meet with a funeral director at noon today (Monday, May 14) to make arrangements for her son’s funeral.
Javon’s father, Dixon Hall, lives in Waterbury, the city where Javon had been living as of Saturday.