Murders and shootings abound over break

The Elm City saw its ninth homicide of the year Friday. But that was only the beginning of a weekend of violence, which included at least four shootings and three other gun-related crimes, according to New Haven Police Department Spokesman Joseph Avery.

The homicides and shootings come on the heels of the NHPD Chief Frank Limon’s January commitment to continue decreasing the city’s incidence of major crimes, which fell last year despite an increase in murders. Murders are on the increase this year as well: This time last year the city’s murder count was at six, three of which took place in the first week of spring break.

Kicking off a grisly weekend early Friday morning was the murder of Derrick Suggs, 53, who was shot in the chest near the corner of Congress and West streets, with the anonymous caller who reported the crime noting “numerous shots,” Avery said. Suggs was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital and died shortly afterwards, Avery said. The Major Crimes Unit launched a homicide investigation over the weekend but as of Monday evening, no further information was publically available, Avery said.

Three other lives were taken in a March 9 arson that blazed through a Fair Haven building. The fire broke out around 1:30 a.m. at a four-storey apartment building on the corner of Poplar and Wolcott streets, trapping three of the building’s 15 occupants on the third floor. The NHPD Major Crimes Unit, along with the Connecticut State Police, the State and United States Attorneys Offices, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have formed a task force to investigate the blaze following reports of a dark-colored mini-van fleeing the scene, Limon said in a Mar. 15 press release.

But the homicides are not the only crimes the NHPD are investigating.

Two shootings on Friday afternoon took place within two hours of each other. At 4:47 p.m., officers responded to reports of “five black males firing a gun in the backyard” of 141 Butler St. where they found a 16-year-old with at least two gunshot wounds, Avery said. No suspect has been apprehended thus far.

Then, at 6:19 p.m., officers responded to a call from New Haven resident Laquan Scott, 32, who was shot in the ankle at 122 Carlisle St. Avery said that a nearby house at 135 Carlisle St. was also struck by gunfire and shell casings were found at the 122 Carlise St. site.

Two more shootings were reported early Saturday morning at the corner of St. John and Hamilton streets. Twenty-six-year-old Miguel Torres and Felipe Rodriguez, 22, were both shot as they were leaving Club Vandome, Avery said, leaving them in a serious, but not life threatening, condition. The culprit, Luis Rivera, 30, fled in a Subaru Impreza but was soon apprehended, Avery said. He added that a .38 caliber revolver was found in the car and both Rivera and his passenger were taken into custody.

Closer to Yale’s campus, a shooting last Monday evening on the corner of Compton and Canal streets was reported by one caller as “two groups shooting at each other,” Avery said. He added that the victim, Jamal Cunningham, 18, was shot in the leg and did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

Yale Police spokesperson Lt. Steven Woznyk said in an email the shooting occurred in an area that borders the YPD’s patrol area. Because the NHPD are investigating the case, Woznyk said he was unable to provide specifics regarding the case.

“We continue to work with NHPD to enhance various patrols in and around the Canal line between the Health Center and 25 Science Park,” he added.

24 murders and 124 shootings took place in New Haven in 2010.

Everett Rosenfeld contributed reporting.

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