STAMFORD -- Police say they have a "strong" person of interest they are trying to track down in Thursday's killing of William "Buttons" James in the city's South End.
Lt. Diedrich Hohn would not identify the suspect or say what led investigators to link him to James' very public murder at the intersection of Pacific Street and Woodland Avenue around 8:30 p.m.
After shooting James, 46, in the back of the head at the crowded intersection where groups of people were playing dice and cards, the gunman was seen running east on Ludlow Street and disappeared into the night, despite an intensive police search. Although there were a lot of people in the area that night -- at least 50 -- Hohn said no one has come forward to tell them what happened or who fired the single shot that killed James.
Hohn said the P.F. Chang's prep cook who had a minor criminal record was specifically targeted and shot in the back of the head at close range. Hohn would not talk publicly about what police believe to be the motive for the murder.
On Monday, Mayor David Martin met with police officials and South End community members to discuss safety in the neighborhood. In spite of last week's murder, the South End has seen a noticeable reduction in crime over the past several years, said Michael Pollard, Martin's chief of staff.
"There's always a perception that criminal activity is greater in that area, and it's not," Pollard said. "It appears that the incident that happened is very much isolated. That being said, there was a healthy discussion around what kind of other things can be done from a policing standpoint to improve (safety)."
Martin, Pollard, Public Safety Director Ted Jankowski, Police Chief Jon Fontneau and several other high-ranking police officers attended Monday's meeting, which was not open to media or the public. South End city Reps. Terry Adams, D-3, and Elise Coleman, D-3, were in attendance as well, as were members of the South End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone.
James's killing is the city's first homicide since April 19, 2013, when Jeffrey McNeil, 24, of 97 Noble St., was shot and killed after a bullet ricocheted off the street and struck him while standing within a large group of men in front of the Cut Master barber shop at 91 Richmond Hill Ave. Police have not made an arrest in that case.