Police: Mother of Olympian killed by stray bullet

The mother of a Puerto Rican Olympian killed by a stray bullet in her Connecticut home was an unintended victim of a drug dispute that erupted into the firing of more than 20 gunshots, a police official said Tuesday.

Mabel Martinez, 56, was shot in the head inside her Waterbury home on Saturday afternoon when at least two people opened fire outside on the street, Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo said at a news conference. No arrests were announced.

Martinez was the mother of Yarimar Mercado Martinez, a rifle shooter on the Puerto Rico Olympic team who competed in the Summer Olympics in 2021 and in 2016. She and other family members were in Waterbury on Tuesday, but did not speak at the news conference.

Spagnolo said people in two cars, including convicted felons known for drug dealing, got into a shootout outside Mabel Martinez’s home. The reason for the dispute was not clear. A man involved in the confrontation, who was on the street, was shot in the hip but survived. No other injuries were reported.

Officers found 15 9mm casings and seven 45-caliber cases at the scene. Police said they were trying to determine if one or two 9 mm guns were fired.

Police have found both cars involved in the shooting and one of their owners. The other owner was being sought for questioning. Both men are convicted felons known to have sold drugs, police said, but they have not been charged in the shooting.

Spagnolo said the shooting raises questions about how illegal guns get into communities and how people on parole and probation are monitored.

Yarimar Mercado Martinez, 27, traveled to Waterbury late Sunday from Brazil, where she was to compete in an international shooting competition. She expressed her anguish in social media posts.

“Why you? Why this way? You were just sitting in your little house sewing, as you always did,” she wrote in Spanish on Facebook.

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