NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — City leaders in New Haven are dealing with a steady uptick in violence. Just five months into the year and New Haven saw its 13th homicide Wednesday night.
After a low of just nine in 2018, numbers have been going up in the past three years.
Police are investigating a deadly shooting that happened on Sherman Parkway in New Haven on Wednesday evening. A spokesperson for Mayor Justin Elicker’s office tells us it happened around 8:30 p.m.
Police and fire responded to the incident on the 500 block of Sherman Parkway for reports of a person shot. The victim was identified as a 34-year-old West Haven man.
Family and friends tearfully comforted one another Thursday, watching as coroners arrived to retrieve the body of their loved one. That man is New Haven’s 13th homicide victim this year.
According to police, a 28-year-old New Haven man remained on the scene and identified himself as being involved in the shooting. According to a report from the city’s emergency alert system, an argument erupted over a game of dominos. The victim reportedly pulled a knife, but the suspect had a gun. He fired, striking the victim once in the head.
“It’s devastating. It doesn’t just impact that one person we lost, but their family,” said Mayor Elicker. “When the shooter is caught it impacts their family as well because it’s likely their loved one will be in prison for many, many years.”
But the mayor’s focus is on stopping the uptick in violence, which he says is driven by COVID-19.
“Some of it is the significant economic impact, some of it is the mental health impact, and the trauma that communities are experiencing,” said Mayor Elicker.
As a way to combat the problem, the mayor, along with the chief of police, are stepping up the frequency of programs like project safe neighborhoods, project longevity, and increasing police walking and bicycle beats.
“This is something that we have to address because everyone deserves to be safe in our city,” said Elicker.
Following the overnight fatal shooting on Sherman Parkway, the mayor also released the following statement:
Cities across the country are experiencing a rise in homicides, and New Haven is no different. I’m working every day with Chief Dominguez to ensure we’re deploying every possible resource to keep our community safe.
Initiatives like the Shooting Task Force partner with surrounding communities to share intelligence, and Project Longevity and Project Safe Neighborhoods are working to keep returning citizens out of trouble.
We’re also engaging in a full-court press to get services to those most in need, particularly our re-entry population—which is why we opened our re-entry center earlier this year. Every life lost is a tragedy; I was at the scene tonight and I’m working day and night to ensure our city is safe for each and every resident.”
Thursday, the Mayor and Police chief rolled out a new plan to combat growing gun violence in the city.
Mayor Elicker made the presentation as part of the police department’s regular COMPSTAT meetings.
“The city has many different partners that are working together and internally we have many different departments that are working on these issues,” said Elicker.
The details include a regional shooting task force, more cops on walking and bike beats, social service and police support for recently released felons, and outreach to young people the city identifies as at-risk.
“We’ll be able to do more overall crime prevention and targetting areas we know crime potentially is going to move to,” said Police Chief Renee Dominguez.
In response to the city’s plan, the police union tells to News 8:
“This is an attempt to conceal the fact that we don’t have enough police officers here in New Haven. The NHPD is severely understaffed, and temporarily taking resources and putting them into walking beats and bicycle patrols is a band-aid approach and not a real solution. There are also multiple levels of intense oversight and constant second guessing of officers enforcing the law that is counterproductive. We are in desperate need of police officers and they need to have the backing and support of city leaders, elected or unelected to do the difficult and dangerous job of getting guns off the streets and reducing crime.”
News 8 reached out to Mayor Elicker for a response. Through a spokesman, he tells us: “All vacant positions [in the police department] are funded.”
If you have any information on any of the 13 homicides or 42 nonfatal shootings in New Haven since the start of 2021, call 1-866-888-TIPS.