City nightclubs witness weekend shootings

Weekend Shooting Locations
Photo by Yale Daily News.

Gunshots rang out downtown both Friday and Saturday night, continuing the trend of violence outside of crowded nightclubs in the Elm City.

The first incident occurred just outside of Pulse Nightclub on Chapel Street Saturday morning. At 2:13 a.m., after police responded to a large fight that broke out as the club closed for the evening, shots were fired. Two men were hit and taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. As of now, police are still investigating the shooting and have made no arrests.

“This string of violent incidents, one that left two men wounded by gunfire, is an inexcusable occurrence,” New Haven Police spokesman David Hartman said. “Violence to this degree is not typical, but when it occurs in New Haven, it almost always stems from a venue that had promoted a hip-hop event.”

When police arrived at Pulse following the fight, the crowd dispersed, with some running toward the Omni Hotel and beginning to fight outside of the hotel’s doors. Police made two arrests before the shots were fired at the corner of Church and Crown Streets.

The two victims, 24-year-old Timothy Charles of nearby Hamden and 21-year old Kirt Swan of New Haven, were taken to Yale-New Haven. Charles was shot in his right hand while Swan was shot in the upper back. Both of the men had attended the hip-hop event at Pulse Nightclub.

Although police briefly detained several individuals seen fleeing from the intersection where the shooting took place, all of them were eventually released.

Police have responded to at least two fights near the club in the past 18 months. They have also arrived at the club to snub out underage drinking violations, which Pulse has been cited for at least twice as well.

Pulse is not the only club with a bad reputation with New Haven Police, though. Fights frequently break out among downtown club-goers, often in the Temple Street Courtyard, as they stream out of bars and dance-floors after one in the morning. In response, police have added more officers to the downtown area on late weekend nights, but say that more police alone will not solve the problem.

The city has urged club owners to take greater responsibility for preventing such fights by hiring more security personnel and taking steps to ensure weapons stay out of the club. At Pulse, all patrons receive a pat-down from security officers before walking into the club.

In the eyes of city officials the clubs’ responsibilities do not end at their doors, but instead extend to preventing violence on the streets directly outside. Owners, though, have pushed back, saying that the job of keeping the peace on the streets lies in the city’s hands.

“I can’t control what goes on outside the club and what goes on on the streets of New Haven. That’s the city’s job,” Pulse owner Jason Cutler told NBC News, adding that the fight was some distance from the club. “That’s three blocks away from here yet they’re pointing the finger at the club. Also, the shooting happened at 2:13 in the morning, almost 45 minutes after the club let out.”

The next night, shots were once again heard, this time just outside of the Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, located only two blocks from Yale’s campus. Although no one was injured, police arrested two New Haven men, Tyrese Dingle and Roger White Drive.

Police also cited eight underage drinkers at the Exhibit X club downtown on Saturday night. This was the second citation this month for the club, where police found six Sacred Heart University students, all under 21, drinking on Sept. 6.

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