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After dayslong manhunt, man arrested in fatal shooting of mom, 11-year-old in parked car in Massachusetts

todayMarch 12, 2024



(WORCESTER, Mass.) — After a dayslong manhunt, a suspect has been taken into custody in the fatal shooting of a mother and her 11-year-old daughter in Massachusetts, authorities said.

Chasity Nunez and her daughter, Zella Nunez, were found shot to death in a parked car in Worcester on the afternoon of March 5, the Worcester Police Department said.

Security video shows the victims’ car parked on the side of the road when two people walked up to the car and started shooting, according to court documents.

One suspect, 28-year-old Karel Mangual, was arrested one day after the double homicide. Police urged the public to be on the lookout for the second suspect, Dejan Belnavis, 27, and offered a reward up to $10,000.

Belnavis was taken into custody on Monday after a motor vehicle stop in the San Diego area, police said.

“We’ve been tracking him for a week. We’re using law enforcement technology with the aid of U.S. Marshals … and the state police. We were able to locate him through that technology,” Worcester Police Chief Paul Saucier said at a news conference Monday.

“Right now, there’s nothing else as far as why he was there,” Saucier added.

Mangual and Belnavis were both wanted on charges of armed assault to murder and carrying a firearm without a license, police said.

Mangual’s charges will be upgraded to murder on Tuesday, and when Belnavis is brought back to Massachusetts he will also be charged to murder, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said.

Chasity Nunez was a specialist in the Connecticut National Guard.

“Our hearts are broken because we lost Specialist Chasity Nunez to senseless violence,” Connecticut National Guard Public Affairs Office Maj. Dave Pytlik said in a statement. “She and her daughter were killed while sitting in their vehicle in their own neighborhood.”

“Chasity was beloved by her fellow Soldiers in the 142nd Medical Company,” Pytlik said. “Her wit, social nature and dedication to duty made her one of the best Soldiers in our unit. I cannot begin to make sense of why this happened and why her family, friends, co-workers and fellow Soldiers have been robbed of her and Zella. What we can, and must do now, is support one another as we grieve, process this profound loss and honor their memory.”

Police and prosecutors said they’ve spoken with the victims’ family following Belnavis’ arrest. Worcester Police Lt. David Doherty said they were “grateful and thankful.”

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