Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

DOJ seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Connecticut
Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 25, 2024

New Haven Gang Member Admits Role in Murders, Other Shootings

TYJON PRESTON, also known as “TJ,” 21, of New Haven, pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in New Haven to a racketeering offense stemming from his role in a violent New Haven street gang.

Today’s announcement was made by Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut; John P. Doyle, Jr., State’s Attorney for the New Haven Judicial District; James Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge, ATF Boston Field Division; Robert Fuller, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Stephen Belleau, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England; and New Haven Police Chief Karl Jacobson.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in an effort to address violence in New Haven, the ATF, FBI, DEA and New Haven Police Department, working closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office, have been investigating an ongoing gang war between members and associates of the Exit 8 street gang and rival gangs in the Hill section and other areas of the city.  The Exit 8 gang is named after the geographic area accessed by exiting Interstate 91 at Exit 8 in New Haven.  Recently, younger members of Exit 8 are identifying themselves with the word “Honcho,” which is derived from the street name of an Exit 8 member who was murdered on Quinnipiac Avenue in February 2020.

The investigation revealed that Preston and other members of the Exit 8 gang engaged in drug trafficking, used and shared firearms, and, since June 2018, have committed at least three murders and 16 attempted murders.  Exit 8 members and associates also stole vehicles, at times from outside of the state, and used those stolen vehicles when committing acts of violence.  Gang members also promoted, coordinated, facilitated, and celebrated their narcotics distribution and acts of violence through text messaging and the use of social media applications and websites including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube.

Preston pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity, and specifically admitted that he took part in the following violent acts:

  • On April 27, 2021, Preston and other Exit 8 members attempted to kill a rival gang member and shot him in the leg.
  • On May 19, 2021, Preston and other Exit 8 members conspired to kill rival gang members, including one who was shot and killed on that date by another Exit 8 member.
  • On May 20, 2021, Preston and other Exit 8 members shot and attempted to kill rival gang members.
  • On July 5, 2021, Preston and another Exit 8 member shot and killed a 22-year-old woman after she made a rap song containing derogatory comments about Exit 8.

At sentencing, which is not scheduled, Preston faces a maximum term of imprisonment of life.  Under the terms of a binding plea agreement, if accepted by the court, the parties have agreed that a sentence of between of between 264 months and 360 months of imprisonment is appropriate in this case.

Preston has been detained since September 9, 2021.

This investigation is being conducted by ATF, the FBI, the DEA, the New Haven Police Department, the Hamden Police Department, and the New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office, with the assistance of the Connecticut State Police and the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tara E. Levens, Rahul Kale and Jocelyn C. Kaoutzanis.

This prosecution is a part of the Justice’s Department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), Project Longevity and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) programs.

PSN is a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.  Project Longevity is a comprehensive initiative to reduce gun violence in Connecticut’s major cities.  Through Project Longevity, community members and law enforcement directly engage with members of groups that are prone to commit violence and deliver a community message against violence, a law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence and an offer of help for those who want it.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations through a prosecutor-led and intelligence-driven approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

An official website of the U.S. Department of Justice

Looking for U.S. government information and services?