A Mission Hill resident who thought it was odd that the front door of AC Hardware was shut in the middle of the day sent her husband to investigate. Inside the store, assistant Suffolk County District Attorney John Verner said, the man found merchandise and blood all over the place - and owner Andres Cruz lying on the floor, dying from gunshot wounds.
The man was one of four witnesses Verner cited today at the arraignment of Jerome Hobson of Dorchester, 38, and Shawn Redden, 26, of Brockton, for Cruz's murder during a robbery around 4 p.m. at his Tremont Street store. Verner said the witnesses provided crucial information that quickly led police to the suspects.
A third man, Christian Soto-Olivero, 21, of Mattapan, was to be arraigned this afternoon in a bed at Boston Medical Center, where he is being treated for what Verner called "deep cuts" to his left arm. His injuries, scrapes suffered by Redden and a blood-covered knife recovered in the store suggest Cruz did not die without a fight after the three entered the store and closed the front door. Verner said officers recovered four shell casings in the store.
At arraignment in West Roxbury Municipal Court for Hobson and Redden, Verner described how witness accounts quickly helped police the three in a gray van on Cedar Street, about eight blocks away.
When the man who discovered Cruz on the ground went outside, he went up to a parking-enforcement officer writing tickets on St. Alphonsus Street.
She, in turn actually talked to the three, asking them if any of them owned the car she was about to ticket. They said no, one said to the other two "we need to get out of here" and they jumped into the van - after the ticket officer noticed blood on the back of his shirt. A fourth witness, driving by, saw the van go into the intersection of St. Alphonsus and Tremont, make a U-turn and head back down St. Alphonsus.
Within minutes, Verner said, an officer on patrol spotted the van on Cedar Street. With help from another officer, he pulled the van over. Redden got out and began to run, Verner said, adding he first "discarded a pile of money," along with a piece of paper that turned out to be a receipt from AC Hardware. When the officers caught up with him, he still had $700 on him, Verner said.
Hobson also ran and was also caught. Soto-Olivero, Verner said, stayed by the van, a "large puddle of blood" accumulating by the passenger side of the vehicle.
Back at the scene, officers followed "a very distinct blood trail" from the store, down St. Alphonsus to where the van had been parked.
Judge Mary Ann Driscoll agreed with Verner's request to hold the two suspect in her court without bail; their attorneys did not contest the request. During the arraignment, they stood in a hallway from the courthouse holding cells, out of view of the crowded courtroom.