A Hartford man opened fire into a marked police cruiser early Tuesday morning, narrowly missing the officer inside and prompting a short foot chase through part of the North End.
Jose Cajigas, 31, was apprehended a few minutes later and charged with attempted murder, criminal possession of a firearm and unlawful discharge, police annunced Tuesday afternoon.
Investigators have since determined Cajigas is a person of interest in the homicide of 53-year-old Catherine Hays, who was found shot to death on Monday afternoon inside a Spring Street apartment, officials said.
The officer, who has not been identified publicly, was hurt by the shattered glass the gunshot caused but was not hit by the bullet Cajigas fired. She was transported to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
“This was an unprovoked attack on one of our officers that was trying to provide assistance to her attacker,” Chief Jason Thody said in a statement. “It puts a spotlight on the dangers police officers face, even in some of the most routine situations.
“I am thankful that she showed bravery and quick-thinking to escape her attacker while keeping him in sight until her fellow officers could assist. All of the officers involved did an outstanding job in taking a dangerous individual into custody, making our community a safer place, and ensuring that all of our officers went home safe at the end of the shift,” Thody said.
The incident with the officer began at about 1:30 a.m. when she was on a directed patrol in her marked police cruiser in the parking lot of 1921 Main St., police said. A man approached her car and, believing he was intoxicated or in need of medical help, the officer requested an ambulance to the parking lot.
Instead, the man “without provocation” drew a firearm and fired through the driver’s side window of the cruiser — narrowly missing her with the bullet but shattering glass into the officer’s face, Lt. Aaron Boisvert said.
The officer pulled the car forward while the man ran but she was still able to see him and directed other responding officers to him, who captured him not far away, Boisvert said. Officers recovered the firearm used at the scene.
Cajigas is considered a person of interest in the death of Hays, who was discovered dead inside an apartment Monday afternoon after police were called for a report that a woman may have overdosed or suffered another medical problem, police said Monday.
They instead found Hays already dead and evidence that she had been shot, police said. Police have released no other details about Hays’ death or why Cajigas was considered a person of interest in that case.
He has a lengthy criminal record including firearm, robbery and narcotics charges, police said. He was most recently arrested on Oct. 15, when he was charged with violation of probation in connection with a previous firearm offense and new weapons, drug and interfering with an officer offenses, court records show. He was able to post a total $270,000 bond and was released from custody.
A month earlier Cajigas was charged with criminal trespass and interfering with an officer and that case was sent to the Hartford Community Court, records show.
Cajigas remained in custody Tuesday in lieu of a $2 million bond for his new charges.
Zach Murdock can be reached at [email protected].