Suspected College Street gunman detained

A man suspected of involvement in Sunday morning’s College Street gunfight, which sent two men to the hospital with bullet wounds, was detained Thursday morning, police announced.

Cadell Harris, 26, walked into a local hospital with a gunshot wound, New Haven Police Department spokeswoman Joe Avery said Thursday night. An eyewitness confirmed he was at the scene, Avery added, and Harris is currently at the hospital, under police guard. Police said that if they receive approval from the State’s Attorney’s Office, they will charge Harris with at least seven crimes, including assault on a police officer, illegal possession of a pistol and unlawful discharge of a weapon.

According to state court judicial records, Harris has served jail time for seven felonies and misdemeanors, such as assaulting a police officer and selling drugs. Police said Thursday that he has been arrested nine times for drug-related charges, adding that he was released from jail last April.

The announcement Thursday came as NHPD Chief Frank Limon unveiled “Operation Nightlife,” an initiative to increase security in New Haven’s downtown entertainment district in the wake of the shooting, including increased police presence and surveillance technology. The police department has teamed up with the fire marshal’s office and the state liquor control committee to deal with issues of club occupancy limits and liquor violations, police said.

“We are looking for club owners to take responsibility for their patrons inside their clubs — and not stop there, but also be responsible for them as they leave the clubs,” Limon said at a press conference held at the Crown Street NHPD command post. “Our message is this: Everyone needs to be held accountable.”

That started with Mayor John DeStefano Jr., who, at an earlier press conference, held Tuesday, accepted responsibility for the shooting. He said he was “too tolerant of some of the behaviors” on the street and would target public drinking and club promotions such as $1 pitcher nights.

After Thursday night’s press conference, Limon, along with agents from the liquor commission and fire marshal’s office, patrolled Temple Street and stopped in several clubs to make routine inspections and demonstrate the type of increased vigilance they will be implementing in the area.

At Crown Street Bar and Grill, they discovered one liquor violation (a minor attempting to buy alcohol with a fake ID), said Stanley Burk, a state liquor agent on the patrol.

“They do spot checks all the time,” said Michael Andrews, the owner of the club Static on Temple Street. “Just because one incident happened recently, that doesn’t mean they don’t do this every night. I’ve been here for 15 years, and I feel safe in this neighborhood.”

Police said that on Wednesday, they parked the “Mobile Incident Command Post,” a converted schoolbus used for additional security at city and University events, such as Commencement and the Harvard-Yale game, at the corner of George and Crown streets. The bus is equipped with about half a dozen computers streaming video feed from 12 cameras in the area, as well as radio devices for wireless communication with Yale and New Haven police, New Haven Police Lieutenant Robert Muller said. The camera feeds come from the YPD, local businesses and the Department of Education, he added.

New Haven police officer Joseph Vitale said Limon asked him to put together the pilot program in response to the shooting, and he worked with YPD and local businesses over the last 48 hours to share access to the video feed.

Police said the vehicle would be in the area through the weekend — and possibly longer.

At about 1:50 a.m. Sunday morning, police responded to the corner of College and Crown streets and saw a mob assaulting New Haven resident Ricky Hargett, who had been celebrating his 19th birthday. Police said Harris allegedly opened fire on Hargett with a handgun at close range and missed. But Harris hit two other New Haven residents: Alfred Smith, 22, in the hand and Eric Evans, 19, in the pelvis. Police added that Harris allegedly opened fire on police as well, and the ensuring gunfight ended with up to 30 shots fired on the corner, as thousands of bystanders were leaving the nearby Crown Street bars.

Limon said the investigation is ongoing and he anticipates more arrests.

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