HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A teenager was killed in a shooting on a popular trail in Hamden Monday afternoon.
At around 2:30 p.m., officers responded to the Farmington Canal Linear Park near Treadwell Street on a report of shots fired. They located the victim, later identified by police as Elijah Gomez, on the canal line, police said.
Police said first responders attempted life-saving efforts but the teen was pronounced dead at the scene.
The teen was a student at Hamden High School, where the district’s crisis team has been activated to provide support and counseling to anyone who needs it.
“This is a devastating loss to Hamden and our schools. Tragedies of this magnitude shake us to the core as individuals and as a community. The loss of a life of a child is impossible to make sense of under any circumstances but the violent nature of this incident leaves us feeling vulnerable, powerless, and grasping for answers,” Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett said in a statement Tuesday.
This happened next to a neighborhood, and people often bike, skate and walk with their families on the trail. Neighbors say it is concerning that this happened.
“It’s alarming because you try to uproot from other neighborhoods, have a better environment and as we can see now, crime’s just gonna happen where it’s going to happen. It’s definitely alarming,” said Tito Rivera of Hamden.
Rivera said his stepson heard six to seven rounds of gunshots go off.
As the weather warms up, community activists like Leonard Jahad worry gun violence will increase. Jahad leads the Connecticut Violence Intervention Program. He was at the scene hoping to talk to any kids in the neighborhood about the consequences of gun violence.
“A lot of people are solving their issues with guns rather than talking them out or fighting. They’re solving them with guns because the culture is that they think everyone has a gun,” Jahad said.
The Farmington Canal Trail covers more than 80 miles going from New Haven to Northampton, Massachusetts. Police and the mayor say this was not random and there is no safety threat on the trail.
In April, a man was threatened by two men with a gun on the trail in New Haven.
“There’s been a couple of incidents, but people shouldn’t think this is reflective of our community. It’s not, it’s a particular case,” Garrett said.
Police followed up on leads in connection to the murder near the Langer Street and Gorham Avenue intersection. Officers seized evidence and spoke to the residents at a home.
As their hunt continues for the suspect, Garrett shed light on the victim after she spoke directly to his family.
“He wasn’t involved with the police officer at the school. He wasn’t known to the violence intervention program, so by all accounts, he wasn’t getting into trouble. It makes it very tragic,” Garrett said.
Garrett said the police department is bolstering patrols to increase security along the canal line.
Detectives from the Hamden Police Department Major Crimes Unit and Crime Scene Unit are following up on leads. No suspects are in custody yet.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Hamden Police Department at (203) 230-4000. Callers can remain anonymous.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.