Details from Toad’s shooting emerge

New Haven Police confirmed Thursday that both men shot Wednesday night inside Toad’s Place did not sustain life threatening injuries. Still, the nightclub’s reputation is at risk from the shootout.

During a local hip-hop showcase in the club Wednesday night, Toad’s employee Fitzroy Ford, 29, was shot in the left leg and attendee Antonio Streater, 20, was shot in the left arm, New Haven Police Department spokesman Joseph Avery said in an email. The police have not made any arrests in the case, Avery said, but NHPD Sgt. David Guliuzza said Wednesday night on the scene that detectives are working off a description of a male suspect.

The showcase drew approximately 60 local, almost entirely non-Yale attendees. Reaction to the shooting from Yale students interviewed was mixed — some said they would not return to Toad’s because of the violent incident, though most said it did not fundamentally change their perception of the New Haven and Yale entertainment staple.

“I’m less willing to go [to Toad’s] for now,” Ivan Fan ’14 said. “It’s not that safe.”

According to one adult witness who wished to remain anonymous, the security was less stringent during the Wednesday event because of the relatively small crowd. The reduced security made it possible for at least one member of the audience was able to sneak in a firearm.

James H. Segaloff, a lawyer for Toad’s, did not return requests for comment Thursday.

While the local rap group C.M.S. was performing onstage, a group of individuals not associated with the performers jumped up on stage, sparking a fight, Avery said. A fight broke out between these two groups at approximately 10:45 p.m., he added, and someone fired a weapon four times. Ford, a Toad’s employee, was shot in his leg as he tried to break up the altercation, Avery said.

After the shots were fired, patrons began to throw chairs and push out into the street, the adult witness said. In the commotion of the mass exit, the gunman was able to leave the club. When the police arrived on the scene, there was still some fighting on the street in front of Toad’s, but many had left the area already, the witness said.

Over 40 Yale students were temporarily trapped in Lily’s Pad at a society event, and were not seen leaving the building until more than a half hour after the shooting started. Students leaving the event said they had not heard the shots.

Although the case falls under the NHPD’s jurisdiction, Yale Police department officers were also on the scene Wednesday night to help maintain order.

“It’s a New Haven Police Department case — as with any matter, if they request assistance, we provide it, as they do for us,” YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins said in an e-mail to the News.

Higgins added that the YPD has indefinitely added patrols in the vicinity of Toad’s as a response to the shooting.

But even though the YPD will be increasing its patrols, some students are questioning the security of a place they frequent.

“I always have fun at Toad’s and it never seems dangerous. But now I’m wondering, who decides who gets in, and why don’t they check for weapons?” Adriana Briones ’11 said. “It’s a place for young people, and I think the chances of something happening is higher unless they start checking.”

Still, 10 of 16 students interviewed said that Wednesday’s incident will not affect their opinion of the nightspot.

Caroline Jaffe ’13 said she considered the shooting to be an isolated incident for the venue, so it will not affect whether she goes there. But, she added, she does feel less safe overall.

“New Haven has felt less safe this year because of the number of different shootings, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that Toad’s is any more dangerous,” Jaffe said.

New Haven has not seen a statistically significant increase in shootings, Avery told the News on Wednesday. But while the number of incidents is the same, in the past two weeks, shots have been fired closer to campus than usual.

In addition to the shooting at Toad’s, a Mar. 14 shootout occurred between two groups on Compton St. which ended with one man being shot in the leg. This incident took place one block from Ingalls Rink.

Four days later, Higgins sent out an e-mail to the Yale community reporting a Mar. 18 shooting at the 100-116 block of Howe St. Although no one was wounded, Higgins said, he alerted the Yale campus because many undergraduates live on that block.

And the night before the Toad’s shooting, Mar. 22, an NHPD investigation turned into a chase in the area of Winchester Avenue and Munson Street. According to Avery, two officers fired on the suspect’s vehicle as he drove straight at them. During the pursuit, NHPD dispatch sent out a call for help to all city police officers. This intersection includes the entrance to the 25 Science Park facility where many Yale employees work.

Higgins did not respond directly to questions about these recent incidents, as the NHPD is leading all of the investigations, but he said the YPD alters its patrols to respond to changing crime patterns.

“Our decisions on patrols and deployment are always informed by events and other relevant factors,” he said in an e-mail to the News. “We have the ability to quickly devote effective resources to any area or crime issue around campus in coordination with the New Haven police.”

The number of shootings in New Haven has consistently gone down since 2007. One hundred forty-nine individuals were shot in 2009, while 124 were shot in 2010.

Anjali Balakrishna contributed to reporting.

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