Total homicides this year surpass 2010

With the murder of a 25-year-old New Haven man, 2011 has become the deadliest year for the Elm City since the early 1990s.

New Haven Police Department officers responded to 72 South Genesee St. near West Rock at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning on reports of a person shot, and found Timothy Mathis ­— a New Haven native — suffering from a gunshot wound, NHPD Lt. Julie Johnson said in an email. An ambulance immediately took him to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, Johnson said. Mathis’s death marks the 25th murder victim to be found in New Haven — one death higher than 2010’s year-end total, and more than any year since 1994.

Detectives from the Major Crimes Unit began an investigation into the murder, but the details remain unclear. Along with this year’s higher-than-normal murder rate, the NHPD has also significantly increased its solved homicides. When NHPD Chief Frank Limon took office in April 2010, the city had only solved three of its 11 homicides; more than half of the murders since then are either in the final stages of investigation or have seen arrests. The most recent reported homicide arrest occurred Aug. 24 when police located and captured a suspect only minutes after a murder.

But there were no obvious suspects when police arrived at South Genesee Street Saturday morning. The responding NHPD officers discovered Mathis on the side of the street in a blue Ford Escape with New York plates, according to the New Haven Independent. Despite this, area residents told the Independent that they did not hear any gunshots in the area; however, two of Mathis’ friends told police that they were driving with him on South Genesee Street when they heard gunfire and noticed he was hit.

Because of this discrepancy, Mathis may mark the second Elm City murder victim in a row to be found on New Haven’s streets whom police believe may have been killed in another location.

Police discovered Cassandra Mead, a 22-year-old East Haven woman, strangled to death on the corner of Union and Water streets — one block from police headquarters and next to the Knights of Columbus museum — last Saturday morning.

Although detectives have not proved that either Mead or Mathis were killed outside of New Haven’s borders, their deaths remain a mystery and cannot immediately be added to the city’s murder tally. Still, their respective homicides fit a pattern of increased killings in the Elm City.

Despite the rise in murders this year, shooting incidents have not seen a statistical increase.

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