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Police in Connecticut are investigating the motive behind a murder-suicide on Friday in which a man shot his wife, stepdaughter, and stepdaughter's friend and then himself, leaving three dead at the home and one seriously injured.
The Windsor Locks Police Department said they believe that David Wisdom, 65, killed himself just before 1 a.m. Friday after shooting and killing his wife, Delores Wisdom, 44, and 18-year-old Lauren "Lela" Leslie. His stepdaughter, who is the daughter of Delores, was treated on the scene for several gunshot wounds before ambulances rushed her to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford; she remains there in critical but stable condition.
The 18-year-old’s name has not been made public, nor has the identity of a fifth man who was in the home at the time of the shooting and was uninjured.
Gathered at the crime scene late Friday morning, relatives of Leslie suggested that anti-gay beliefs were the reason behind the murders. The family says that Leslie was the stepdaughter's girlfriend.
“I hope there’s an investigation to see if this was rooted in hate or if this has anything to do with homophobia,” Jhavier Leslie, the victim's brother, told The Hartford Courant. “But I think the ultimate message, at least for me, is that this is a part of a greater issue in our society. Especially in Black communities, it’s very difficult for us. We don’t have many safe spaces, even with our family.”
Family members say Leslie, who they referred to as "Lela," had been in a romantic relationship with the stepdaughter for approximately one year. Jhavier Leslie, who also identifies as gay, said that his sister spent years trying to come to terms with her sexuality.
Over time, after years of adversity, his sister “finally gained the strength to realize who she is," he said.
Since the killings, an outpouring of support for Delores Wisdom emerged on Facebook, where Connecticut Food Bank/Foodshare President and CEO Jason Jakubowski made a statement; Wisdom was a volunteer services manager with the organization.
“Heartbroken and devastated don’t even begin to describe what we’re feeling today. Delores Wisdom was more than just our co-worker, she was our friend. She had an energy and a charisma that would light up any room she was in, and her passion for the work that we do was undeniably infectious,” he wrote.
Lt. Paul Cherniak with the Windsor Locks Police Department has addressed circulating theories that this was an anti-gay hate crime, saying they "don’t know if that was the trigger for everything that had happened."
Cherniak did not respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden recognized Pride Month in a proclamation this week, saying that he "will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law."
"During LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we recognize the resilience and determination of the many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically," he wrote. "In doing so, they are opening hearts and minds, and laying the foundation for a more just and equitable America."
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