GROTON — Groton Police and the parents of a man shot and killed in a senseless act of violence met on Tuesday afternoon to speak about the young man's life and death. Now, a suspect is in custody.
Joseph Gingerella, 24, of Groton, was shot and killed around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday. Police say he was at Ryan's Pub, when he noticed a man beating a woman, later determined to be the suspect's girlfriend, in the parking lot. Gingerella tried to intervene, but Gingerella was shot several times and later died.
Police have arrested Dante Hughes, 30, of Groton, in Gingerella's murder. He was found on the Canadian side of the U.S. border on Tuesday, and taken into custody. He is awaiting extradition back to Connecticut.
"Our investigation has shown that, has demonstrated that he was actually trying to intervene on somebody's behalf and help them," Groton Town Police Chief Louis Fusaro Jr. said.
Fusaro recounted the events of Sunday's incident at Tuesday's press conference. He was joined by Tammy and Joe de la Cruz, Gingerella's mother and stepfather, as well as other family members. Joe de la Cruz, who was elected to the state House of Representatives in November and formerly served as the Groton Town councilor, spoke on behalf of the family. While fighting back tears, he said:
We're incredibly grateful to the Groton Town Police for the incredible work they're doing, and for having apprehended the suspect in this horrible crime against our son Joey.
Joey was a wonderful, wonderful young man who was blessed to have two fathers. I'm his stepdad, Joe de la Cruz, and his father, Frank Gingerella. It's no secret that Joey suffered from addiction. He battled addiction for years, but found the courage and strength to confront it and to make positive changes in his life. He was making huge strides towards his goal. He was an inspirational, helpful and caring individual who put the needs of others before himself.
He's blessed with many friends who appreciated his perception of community, friendship and family. His circle included many people of all colors, backgrounds and races.
We all love him, and know his legacy will grow through the work of his friends and family, who will continue to do it in his soul and his memory. We want to thank the many people who loved Joey and want to do something for him and our family. We appreciate these sentiments, and are thankful. We hope to establish a scholarship in his name, but have not yet begun that effort. We have been made aware that several GoFundMe pages have been set up by our community. The outpouring of support has been unbelievable. Those monies will be used to help heal our community in honor of our son Joey. Thank you.
By all accounts, Gingerella's last act wasn't his only heroic one, and his death is touching those around him.
"We deal with tragedies all the time in this line of work. But, when the deputy chief called to tell me who it was, my heart sank," Chief Fusaro said.
That heartbreak is because Fusaro knows Gingerella and his family well. Gingerella has battled an opioid addiction for years, which led him, his mother Tammy and his stepfather to start Community Speaks Out, a local nonprofit that advocates on behalf of families struggling with addiction.
Gingerella was very vocal about his addiction, hoping his story would help others.
Anyone with any information on the incident is asked to contact the Groton Police Department at (860) 441 – 6712.