Prosecutors added two additional counts of murder Thursday to charges already filed against former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez.
Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley alleged that the former National Football League star "stalked, ambushed, and senselessly murdered" two Cape Verdean nationals while they were stopped at a traffic light in Boston's South End on July 16, 2012, just weeks before Mr. Hernandez signed a $40 million contract with the Patriots.
Mr. Hernandez had already been charged with an unrelated murder of Odin Lloyd in North Attleboro, Mass., and has been held without bail since pleading not guilty to that slaying. The district attorney told reporters at a press conference Thursday that additional charges could be forthcoming.
Boston police have long suspected that Hernandez might have been involved in the 2012 double slaying of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, who were shot and killed when an assailant in an SUV with Rhode Island license plates pulled up alongside their BMW and opened fire, according to an affidavit filed last year.
"There is ... probable cause to believe that Aaron Hernandez was operating the suspect vehicle used in the shooting homicides ... and may have been the shooter," reads a June 2013 warrant obtained by CNN.
Mr. Conley told the grand jury that police have since recovered both the vehicle and the gun believed to have been used in the drive-by shooting. Conley added that Hernandez had met the victims earlier that night and had been captured on surveillance footage at the Cure Lounge nightclub in Boston’s Theater District, but he did not offer any further information about a potential motive.
Initial media reports of the incident suggested that the victims had been involved in a local Cape Verdean gang. Conley told the grand jury that those allegations were false and “unfair to their families and to their memories … neither of them were involved in gangs, guns, or violent crimes,” The Boston Globe reported.
In February, the families of the two slain men each filed $6 million wrongful death lawsuits against Hernandez, alleging that he "willfully, recklessly and/or maliciously shot a firearm from inside of his motor vehicle" killing the pair, Fox Sports reported.
There were three other men in the BMW, one of whom was wounded while the other two fled unharmed.
Survivor Aquilino Freire told police an SUV pulled up next to them while they were stopped, and he saw someone in the SUV's back seat laughing, according to the affidavit. Then, several gunshots were fired from the rear passenger seat into the car, Freire told police.
Police say they have recovered the SUV in question at Hernandez’s uncle’s home in Bristol, Conn., where officers believe it has sat untouched for close to a year, according to affidavits filed in court.
Material from the Associated Press and Reuters were used in this report.