NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — What began as a carjacking has ended with two men dead after they crashed into a synagogue on Harrison Street early Monday morning.
“He opened the door, grabbed me and ripped me right out of the car,” said Heath Klarsfeld, who police said was the car jacking victim.
At 1:15 a.m., New Haven police say a carjacking took place in the vicinity of Whalley Avenue and Fitch Street, in the Westville section of the city. A short time later, officers noticed the stolen car in the area of Winthrop Avenue, and began to pursue.
According to New Haven police, officers lost sight of the car as they were following the stolen vehicle. Moments later, they discovered that the car had crashed into Congregation Beth El-Keser, located at 85 Harrison Street.
Two men in the stolen car were killed in the crash. They were later identified as 23-year-old Tommy Clayton Brown, of New Haven, and 20-year-old Andrew Bolden-Velez, of West Haven. A woman who identified herself as Brown’s sister said that he was expecting his first child in March, as his girlfriend is pregnant with a daughter.
The synagogue is at the corner of Harrison Street and Whalley Avenue, which caused a portion of Whalley Avenue to be closed for hours Monday morning. The roadway has since reopened.
The car was heavily damaged in the crash, and there is structural damage to the synagogue as well. Crews needed almost three hours to remove the car from the scene.
Connecticut State Police have been called in to handle the investigation. According to New Haven police, anytime there is a police involved shooting or police pursuit, it is standard procedure for State Police to be called in for the investigation.
If you witnessed any aspect of this carjacking or crash, or if you have any information that could help police in their investigation, you’re asked to call Connecticut State Police at 860-848-6579.