NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Police in New Haven are investigating an assault near Yale University’s campus as a hate crime.
A Latino man was severely beaten by a group of white men early Saturday morning on York Street, right in front of Yale’s Davenport College, police said. The victim and a witness told police the suspects allegedly shouted racial slurs during the assault.
“The victim describes two white male assailants,” New Haven’s police chief Karl Jacobson said. “We’re looking at possibly a group of five white males in total. So, we’ll be looking to find, identify, and talk to all of them. This may be a hate and bias hate crime. We’re handling it like it is.”
The university has more than 3,000 surveillance cameras, and the attack was captured on camera. Police said they have some video already, but investigators haven’t been able to identify any suspects yet.
“The people in the video are at a distance, so we cannot positively identify anyone,” Assistant Police Chief Berttram Etienne said. “So, the more video we get, we’ll look at more video, and hopefully, we’ll be able to identify someone.”
The victim’s partner said he had to have staples in two parts of his scalp, and he has fractures on both sides of his face. The severity of the attack is shocking, but so is the hatred part — the racial component.
“It was definitely really shocking,” Yale student Eric Gan said. “I’m actually a student in Davenport, so the fact that it happened right in front of our gate is quite shocking.”
Anthony Campbell, Yale’s police chief said students who witnessed what happened quickly jumped in, coming to the aid of the victim and his partner who was with him at the time.
“The groups bumped into each other, there was an exchange, and then there was the violence,” Campbell said. “The entire physical altercation, from what we’ve been able to ascertain, took approximately one minute.”
Campbell said the victim is not a member of the Yale community, and at this point in the investigation, police don’t believe the suspects are members of the Yale community. But happening where it did has changed how some Yale students view the city and its campus.
“We’re going out in groups now,” Yale student Sage Friedman said. “There are very little late-night lonely walks alone. Yeah, it definitely does make me feel differently, and it makes me feel a little bit less safe.”
Yale and New Haven police say they are working together, but Jacobson admitted the investigation into the hate crime allegations should have started earlier.
“It does not reflect on who we are, and we need to, as a city, show very clearly that we won’t tolerate this kind of behavior,” New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said.
Anyone with information or video related to the case is asked to call Yale police at (203) 432-4400 or New Haven police at 1-866-888-TIPS(8477), or text “NHPD plus your message” to 274637 (CRIMES).