With multiple gunshot wounds in his left arm and wrist, New Haven resident Jayson Roman, 27, ran three blocks from Edgewood Avenue to St. Raphael’s Hospital on Chapel Street last Saturday. After reaching the hospital just before 4 a.m., he told the staff his friend had also been shot and was in a nearby car, unable to move.
When the New Haven police found the car, a beige Lexus crashed into a fence four blocks down Edgewood Avenue from Pierson College, Roman’s friend, Shawn Alexander, 33,was slumped in the driver’s seat, the engine still running. He was dead from multiple gunshot wounds, at least one of which was to the head, NHPD spokesman Joe Avery said.
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It was the third fatal shooting during the first week of spring break and the city’s sixth homicide of the year. The spring break shootings were the second string of brutal murders that have occurred since October and left a dozen dead.
All 12 cases are still under investigation. Avery said the most recent three are not the result of gang violence and there is no connection between them.
“There’s no gang warfare going on,” Avery said.
Violence in the city is usually the product of juveniles shooting, robbing each other and doing “stupid stuff” such as picking petty fights or committing small-scale robberies, he said.
But these murders are unusual: The youngest victim was 33 years old, nearly all the victims of the shootings were ex-convicts, and the murders happened in areas known for drug activity. Avery said fatal violence is seldom related to gang activities.
Alexander and Roman were both released early last year after serving at least three years each in prison on drug charges. Three days before Alexander’s murder, resident Jeffrey Jones, 43, was shot at close range in the Hill neighborhood. Jones too had a criminal record and was convicted of second degree assault two years ago.
And on March 7, New Haven resident Andre Jackson, 39, was gunned down in the Dwight neighborhood after being chased down the street, according to police. Jackson’s criminal record includes several felony gun and narcotics charges.
Following the spree of seven homicides between October and January, community leaders said the murders were being caused by the release of felons back into the city, a theory police would not confirm then and deny now.
Since January fatal gun violence has shifted from the north of the city to the south. The first string of murders hit the Dixwell and Newhallville neighborhoods. Now the Hill and Dwight neighborhoods are taking the brunt.
The March 9 murder in the Hill took place on Rosette Street, an area Sgt. Rich Miller identified as one of the hotbeds of gang activity in his Hill South policing district. The Dwight murders on March 7 and 13 took place in what has historically been one of concentrated gang activity, according to NHPD gang detectives.
New Haven’s incoming police chief, Frank Limon, who will take charge on April 5, has said he will make reducing the city’s gun violence a priority. Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said Limon’s gang expertise was one of the principal reasons he was hired.
Limon oversaw the Chicago Police Department’s Organized Crime Division and specifically targeted drug gangs, including one operation in which 55 gang members were arrested.