A Saturday shooting in the downtown nightclub district left two men injured and one dead, lifting New Haven’s murder tally to a total of seven this year.
Upon receiving reports of gunfire around 1:57 a.m. on Saturday, the New Haven Police Department dispatched officers to the area between Crown and College streets, only two blocks away from Phelps Gate on Old Campus. When the officers arrived to the crime scene, they located two victims at the corner, Tyrell Drew and Michael Washington, according to NHPD spokesman David Hartman. Drew, a 21-year-old New Haven resident, had been shot in the chest and was transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
Washington, 19, was found suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg and was also taken to the hospital to be treated for a fractured femur. He remains in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries, doctors say.
Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins sent an email early Saturday morning notifying the University community that New Haven police were on the scene after shots had been fired. The incident occurred before the start of Yale’s Commencement activities, with friends and family of members of the class of 2013 flooding campus to celebrate their graduation.
At about 3:00 a.m. Saturday night, Hartman added, the NHPD was informed by the hospital staff at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Conn. that another man was being treated at their facility for two gunshot wounds. The victim, Kiyhem Booker, a 35-year-old Bridgeport resident, told the medical staff that he had been shot in New Haven as nightclubs were closing down. Booker’s wounds were not as serious, and he was released shortly afterwards.
Detectives from the department’s Major Crimes Division and Bureau of Identification have commenced their investigation into the shooting. While the investigation is fully underway, few details can be released at this time, Hartman said in a Saturday afternoon statement. Police are following several leads, Hartman said, but a preliminary investigation has led detectives to believe that the shooting could have originated from an earlier dispute at one of the clubs in downtown.
Saturday’s homicide is the most recent in a string of events that are bringing attention back to gun violence around nightclubs, both downtown and in other Elm City neighborhoods. Just over a month ago on March 30, a dispute outside the Taurus Café — a nightclub located at 520 Winchester Ave. — ended with the death of Eric Forbes, 33. The same club was home to another shooting on Feb. 15: Two New Haven residents — Chris Erkerd, 19, and Leonard Brown, 57 — were shot outside of the nightclub and taken to hospitals in the area, where they received treatments for their wounds.
Hartman said that while incidents of nightclub violence remain rare in New Haven, the city’s police department is placing a lot of focus on nightclubs and will enhance its presence at bars and clubs during the weekend to monitor the behavior of patrons.
“Violence at nightclubs is particularly troubling,” Hartman said. “Alcohol-fueled disputes in crowded spots pose a greater threat to bystanders.”
In January 2007, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. identified five nightclubs that he considered “hotspots for trouble” — among them Taurus Café — and called for them to be closed. For now, all of the blacklisted clubs have remained open.