Man accused in 'Up or on the Rocks' killing arrested - News, Weather & Sports

Man accused in 'Up or on the Rocks' killing arrested on Disney vacation

Mike Cruz Mike Cruz
Brian Simpe Brian Simpe

Hartford police said they have made an arrest in connection with the shooting death of a 19-year-old from Manchester at a popular Hartford club.

Brian Simpe was shot in the chest after an altercation at Up or on the Rocks on the corner of Union Place and Allyn Street earlier this month.

Sources told Eyewitness News a brewing dispute inside the club between two groups over a young lady boiled over outside after closing time. Simpe, sources said, tried to intervene when he was shot. 

Shortly after the shooting, police identified the suspect as Mike Cruz, 23.

Police said they obtained information that he was on a Disney World vacation, and Friday he was arrested in Florida.

"We got some pretty good information that he was down at Disney, very solid information," said Hartford police Lt. Brian Foley. "We lined up our partners down there. The state marshals, working with our intelligence detectives, our major crimes detectives, He was surveilled by his hotel, and eventually he was surveilled offsite from there."

Simpe was a 2012 Manchester High School graduate, worked at Shop Rite, attended Manchester Community College and wanted to own his own business, family said.

"We hope and pray that he can be identified as the shooter,'" said Simpe's uncle, Richard Osei. "And also if he is the shooter, he should be sent to jail for the rest of his life."

Cruz was charged with murder, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a pistol/revolver.

Police said Cruz has six arrests in Hartford, including narcotic sales and various gun offenses.

"I don't know when he left Connecticut, but possibly he left immediately after the shooting or the day after," Osei said. "And I also thank the Hartford police and the detectives for bringing him to justice."

Cruz is being held on $2 million bond.

"Michael Cruz admits he was at that location that evening. He thought police wanted to talk to him as a witness," said Gerald Klein, who is the attorney for Cruz. "This trip was booked and paid for before what happened. He had a round trip ticket and was planning to come home, and he wasn't taking off to avoid prosecution."

Cruz is being held in Florida pending extradition back to Connecticut. Klein said he is telling Cruz to waive extradition back to Connecticut.

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