BOSTON — Aaron Hernandez ambushed and gunned down two men after a chance encounter inside a Boston nightclub nearly two years ago, prosecutors said Thursday in an indictment that places the gun in Hernandez’s hands weeks before he signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the New England Patriots and went on to catch 51 passes and score five touchdowns during the 2012 NFL season.
Hernandez, 24, was already jailed in connection with a man’s 2013 shooting death and was indicted anew on two counts of first-degree murder and other charges in connection with the July 2012 killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. A third man was wounded in that attack.
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in the killing last year of Odin Lloyd, 27, a semi-pro football player whose body was found in an industrial area near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough. Released by the Patriots last summer after being arrested in Lloyd’s death, Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in that case and his attorneys said in a statement that he looked forward to proving his innocence of the new charges.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley would not say whether prosecutors suspected a link between the two cases beyond their accusations of Hernandez’s involvement.
According to Conley, the night of the 2012 shootings unfolded when Hernandez and an associate went into the Cure Lounge at about the same time as the other men. The prosecutor would not describe what he called their “chance encounter,” but said there was no evidence that Hernandez knew the victims beforehand.
After the men left, Hernandez followed in an SUV and pulled up alongside the men as their vehicle was stopped at a red light in Boston’s South End, Conley said.
“Aaron Hernandez fired a .38-caliber revolver multiple times from the driver’s side of his vehicle into the passenger’s side of the victim’s vehicle,” killing de Abreu, 29 and Furtado, 28, said Conley.
The case remained unsolved for months, but following the Lloyd shooting, Conley said the SUV was found in Bristol, Connecticut, where Hernandez grew up, and the gun used in the double shooting was recovered from a person with ties to Hernandez. Previous court documents have said the vehicle was found at the home of Hernandez’s uncle.
A grand jury heard testimony from more than 24 witnesses and examined more than 80 pieces of evidence before returning the indictments, Conley said. He said Hernandez’s notoriety played no role in the investigation.
“This was never about Aaron Hernandez. This case was about two victims who were stopped, ambushed and senselessly murdered on the streets they called home,” he said.