Man accused of killing East Hartford store owner heads to court - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Man accused of killing East Hartford store owner heads to court


The man accused in the brutal murder of a convenience store clerk in East Hartford over the weekend faced a judge Tuesday morning.

Kezlyn Mendez was arrested Monday afternoon in Hartford while Eyewitness News cameras were rolling and has been charged with murder, felony murder, first-degree robbery, criminal use of a firearm and criminal possession of a firearm in the shooting death of Luthfur 'Belal' Tarafder, 47.

Police said they were called to the Circle H Food Mart at 1084 Burnside Ave. around 11 p.m. Saturday after receiving reports of shots being fired.

Police said when they arrived they found the clerk, identified as Tarafder, suffering from a gunshot wound to his chest. He was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later.

According to arrest papers, Mendez left behind his cell phone and fingerprints at the scene of the crime. The cell phone was not only registered to Mendez, but had pictures of him on it, the papers said. Surveillance video from the Circle H Food Mart show the same cell phone clipped to Mendez's jeans and his probation officer identified him in the video.

Mendez's fingerprints were found on a bottle of "Brisk" pink lemonade and a Del Monte fruit cup package that he placed on the front counter before the shooting.

In court Tuesday, friends and family of Tarafder were looking for justice and to catch a glimpse of the man who has been charged in his death. They said they were thankful of the quick arrest.

"The police department did such a wonderful job," said Syed Ahmed. "They got the guy so quick."

Friends also remembered the man who died on Saturday night.

"He's a loving father person who touched not only family, but the community too," Ahmed said.

Within 36 hours, detectives with assistance of the Hartford Police Department Shooting Task Force arrested Mendez on Sterling Street in the city's North End where Eyewitness News was the only media outlet on the scene.

The judge set Mendez's bond at $3 million.

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