HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and Police Chief Jason Tody addressed gun violence in the city on Thursday, noting that most of the recent shootings are the result of groups retaliating against one another.
Just in the last eight days, there have been eight shootings in Hartford, leaving 12 people injured and one dead. The Hartford Police Department is working around the clock to identify suspects.
Mayor Luke Bronin said many of the recent incidents are connected. He said the individuals are not affiliated with specific gangs but are a part of geographically based groups, mostly in the north end of the city.
“What we’re seeing right now is back and forth acts of violence that are part of a retaliatory cycle,” said Bronin. He says the shooting injuring a 15-year-old boy early Thursday morning was targeted.
Most of the suspects are known to the police. Police Chief Jason Thody said the retaliation is caused by intense personal conflicts that are escalating to gun violence.
“It could be something as small as a social media post or someone seeing someone drive by and don’t think they belong in that area,” Chief Thody said. “Even the triggers for some of these group-related violent acts, the threshold to trigger that has gotten lower and lower.”
Because these suspects and victims are known to law enforcement, police have some strong leads and are using cameras and forensic evidence to put the pieces together.
Community Organizations like COMPASS Youth Collaborative play a big part in combating gun violence. COMPASS focuses on building relationships with at-risk youth and teaching them conflict resolution so if they do have a problem with someone, they can talk it out instead of picking up a gun.
So far this year, there have been 90 shootings in the city, 23 of them fatal. Officials hope community organizations like COMPASS can help prevent shootings with the work they do.
“We’ve been connecting kids to social work, to education, to other opportunities, removing them from situations using a lot of cogitative behavioral therapy to make sure that kids pause before they make impulsive decisions,” said Jacquelyn Santiago Nazario, head of COMPASS Youth Collaborative. “We are connecting with these kids. They trust us. We are looking to make some change and hopefully, stop some of this hurt that’s happening in the community.”