Hartford Police Divers Find Gun In Pope Park Pond

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HARTFORD — Members of the Hartford police dive team recovered a gun while conducting a training exercise in the Pope Park Pond Tuesday.

Lt. Brian Foley, head of the department’s Major Crimes Division, said the gun that was recovered is one police were seeking as part of an investigation into a shooting in Hartford. Foley said he could not say which case it is connected to.

“It’s one of the firearms we were looking for,” he said.

The dive team regularly conducts training exercises, and often focuses on the murky waters of Pope Park Pond, Foley said.

In April, the Hartford and West Hartford drive teams searched the pond for evidence related to two murders — the January 2010 murder of Christian Torres on Park Road in West Hartford and the August 2009 murder of Matthew Rivera on Dover Street in Hartford.

At the time, police said they knew the weapons used in those crimes were in the pond.

Guns that have been submerged for a long time are not likely to yield fingerprints or DNA, Foley said in April, but they can still provide ballistic evidence related to firing pins, bullets and gun barrels that can be invaluable in solving a case.

Foley said Hartford divers have searched Pope Park Pond may times for weapons. The pond is not deep — only about 7 feet at its deepest — but there several factors make finding a knife or gun difficult.

Foley said the bottom of the pond is covered with a foot-thick layer of goose excrement and sediment, and that bicycles and shopping carts from the plaza across the street from the park often end up there.

That combination makes it difficult to see objects on the bottom. Metal detectors often home in on objects other than guns and knives. There is also the danger of broken glass, fishing line and other debris that can’t be seen. The presence of animal waste is believed to have caused two Hartford divers to suffer ear infections after a recent dive there.

By Dave Owens, Hartford Courant

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