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Fugitive still on the run; Slaying suspect not seen since Christmas Eve '99.

Byline: Scott J. Croteau

WORCESTER - While many will celebrate Christmas Eve on Thursday, the day will also mark 10 years that suspected killer Edwin R. Novas has been on the run.

It was on Christmas Eve 1999 when Danny Guzman stood outside the former Tropigala nightclub on 816 Main St. An innocent bystander, Mr. Guzman, 26, of Worcester was shot and killed around 1:55 a.m.

The young man was rushed to St. Vincent Hospital, where he died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. The bullet penetrated his heart.

Shortly after the killing, an arrest warrant for Mr. Novas was issued out of Central District Court. The warrant is for murder, armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Mr. Novas, now 30, is also accused of shooting another man, Armondo Maisonet, then 23, in the shoulder.

Police have followed leads and continue to look for the murder suspect. Three years ago, Mr. Novas was highlighted on Fox TV's "America's Most Wanted."

"Authorities are still working on finding his location. Some rumors say he's out of the country, some say he is dead, other have him still here," police spokesman Sgt. Kerry F. Hazelhurst said. "To date nothing has substantiated any of these claims and we just press on and continue to beat the bushes."

The case is hinging on the "inevitable apprehension" of Mr. Novas, police said. Authorities have been to New York and followed leads in Mr. Novas' home country, the Dominican Republic.

The murder spawned two high-profile civil suits against the Worcester company that manufactured the gun used to kill Mr. Guzman. The 9 mm handgun was found to have been stolen by an employee of Kahr Arms and had no serial number.

A couple of days after the shooting, the gun was found by a 4-year-old child in a lot on Benefit Street. Mr. Novas ran up Benefit Street after the shooting.

According to court records in Central District Court, a police officer was outside the club when the shooting occurred. The officer saw the shooting and saw the shooter and two other men run toward Benefit Street. The officer was able to stop two men, but the shooter escaped.

Officer Joseph Tolson wrote that he was outside the club when he noticed a large group of people come outside. He told other officers he would stay there until the crowd broke up.

"That's when I noticed a male reach into his jacket and pull out something," the officer wrote. "Then I heard a loud bang. Then I saw the same male fire a second shot."

The officer called for help and the suspect allegedly fired once more before running away.

Detectives interviewed witnesses and two of them identified Mr. Novas as the shooter, according to court records. A third witness told police Mr. Novas was in the club less than an hour before the shooting. Fingerprints were pulled from a car Mr. Novas was seen inside before the shooting and those were matched as Mr. Novas' fingerprints, police said.

Mr. Novas is 6 feet 2 inches tall, about 172 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He also goes by the names Edwin Rafael Solano and Edwin Novas-Solano.

According to a state police "Most Wanted" bulletin, Mr. Novas had an argument with one of the victims earlier in the evening.

"Novas looking to settle the argument waited outside of the club as all of the patrons began to exit," the bulletin said. "As the victims exited the club Novas fired a 9 mm handgun at a close range fatally injuring one of the victims."

Anyone with information is asked to call the Worcester Police Detective Bureau at (508) 799-8651 or the Massachusetts State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section at (800) 527-8873.

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Mr. Novas

NOTE: 1999 INCIDENT
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 21, 2009
Words:643
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