The son of University Chaplain Rev. Frederick J. Streets is among the victims injured by a wave of shootings over the past few days that resulted in the death of one Dixwell resident.
Bennett Streets is recuperating after being shot late Sunday night, a representative for the New Haven Police Department said. His shooting is one of at least four separate incidents across the city that occurred between Sunday and Monday night. Among these was a shooting Monday afternoon on Ashmun Street that killed Robert Bennett, the 20-year-old son of Dixwell community activist Doug Bethea.
Bennett Streets told police that masked robbers shot him in the neck twice after dragging him from his car on Sunday near the intersection of Ella T. Grasso Boulevard and Derby Avenue, the NHPD representative said.
Rev. Streets said Tuesday night that his son will not be permanently injured.
“He’s better,” he said. “He’s undergoing a slow recuperation. He’ll hopefully make a full recovery in the next few weeks.”
NHPD Sgt. Andrew Munroe said the NHPD is hearing conflicting stories about the crime.
“One version is that he was robbed and forced inside the building and he tried to flee and shots were fired,” he said. “There were anywhere from 3 to 5 men in masks involved.”
He said police are combing the neighborhood to talk to people and try to get a clear picture of the incident.
“The detectives are on the street trying to figure out what happened, canvassing the neighborhood and talking to possible witnesses,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot going on lately, so we’re trying to balance things out.”
The string of shootings was notably violent and tragic in a city where overall crime has decreased by 7 percent over the past year. The area surrounding the University has seen a decline in crime as well, although the city-wide murder rate, particularly among young men, has risen sharply. Besides Bennett’s murder and Streets’ shooting, a 14-year old girl was shot in the stomach in Fair Haven on Monday night, and a 40-year old man was shot on Grand Avenue late on Monday night. Neither shooting was fatal.
Emma Smith ’09, who was tutoring at the New Haven Book Bank on Monday, just blocks from the site of Bennett’s murder, said the entire street where Bennett was killed was blocked by police cars and caution tape that afternoon. The Yale-Dixwell Community Center, a community center and the new headquarters of the Yale Police Department, at also nearby, at 101 Ashmun St.
“It was a little scary walking back,” she said. “A 20-year-old man had been shot in the back on the 200 block of Ashmun Street and … the gunman was at large.”
She said the contrast between the tragedy at Monterey Place and the comfort of the University was striking.
“I walked two blocks [towards Yale] and felt perfectly safe,” she said. “The disparity was more evident than ever.”
Ward 23 Alderman Yusuf Shah, one of the aldermen who has proposed legislation to institute a youth curfew — or, as he calls it, a “Youth Protection Device” — in the city, said this latest cycle of violence is an indication of the effect of crippling socioeconomic problems in New Haven.
“There is a grave sense of hopelessness,” he said. “I see a high level of unemployment in the city. There is a sense of hopelessness in communities where there are no opportunities for job training or educational opportunities. Desperate acts of behavior begin to be exhibited. People are really, really agitated to a high degree and it’s because of the condition our state is in.”
Munroe said the NHPD’s Investigative Services Division is looking for any information on the shootings, none of which has been solved.
In addition to the controversial curfew proposal, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. has proposed to increase the NHPD’s ranks by 20 percent and to refocus the force on community policing. But Shah said that no matter what methods are enacted, he has hope that the city can overcome the bloodshed of recent months.
“We keep working at New Haven because we love New Haven,” he said. “These crimes are horrible and terrible, but we’re going to get past it.”