Local businesses weather gun scare

Instead of the usual pedestrian traffic up and down the shops lining Chapel Street, rows of police cars and snipers criss-crossed the streets last Monday, responding to reports of a gunman on Yale’s Old Campus.

When the University instituted a campus-wide lockdown from approximately 11 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. on Monday, police also ushered car and foot traffic off of Chapel Street, from College Street to York Street, and diverting the stream of customers that would normally frequent Chapel Street restaurants and stores during lunchtime. Several businesses reported significant financial losses due to the lockdown, although many also served as refuges for customers with nowhere else to go.

Claire’s Cornercopia, which sits at the corner of College and Chapel streets, saw an influx of students and residents of the Taft Apartments — who entered the restaurant from a side door — in search of company for the duration of the lockdown. Owner Claire Criscuolo said that, despite the diminished foot traffic, spirits remained high inside the bakery, where she and her employees were rolling pie crust for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

“We keep the rosary beads in the kitchen,” she said. “We were just rolling the pie crust and praying the rosary.”

Though the Yale Police Department sent out a number of alerts to University staff and students, several store employees said that no one officially informed them that a campus-wide lockdown was in place. For these businesses, the day mostly passed without updates or specific instructions.

Colleen Carroll, the manager of Atticus Book Store, said that at no point did police officers enter the store to notify employees of the situation once the lockdown began. Only at about 3:30 p.m., when Carroll noticed fewer patrol cars lining the street, did workers “stick their heads” out to ask if it was safe to leave.

Carroll estimated that Atticus lost a few thousand dollars in sales between the bookstore and the café during the lockdown. Though some deliveries to the store could not be made, it did not take long for business to pick back up, she added.

In the meantime, customers waiting for the all clear passed time on their laptops, reading books or eating.

“This was the place to be stuck,” she said. “We had food, coffee and a bathroom. I think people felt safe.”

Book Trader Café also reported losses, as the lockdown practically dissolved its regular lunch crowd, according to store manager Kelly Pyers. Those deficits were quickly recovered, however, as a rush of hungry customers flooded the doors once the lockdown was lifted. Five employees and half a dozen customers remained inside over the course of the lockdown, though Pyers said customers were allowed to leave if they so chose.

The lockdown may have even brought Book Trader several new customers.

“There were policemen in the streets, but they would come in to use the bathroom and get hot chocolate,” Pyers said.

At the Study Hotel a few blocks down, guests continued to arrive and were checked out without any issues. Cars still managed to pull up in front of the lobby after some extra direction from hotel personnel, and employees came to work as scheduled. As a safety precaution, doors were locked to any non-guests, according to front desk supervisor Camille Falcone.

Police determined that there was likely no shooter on campus by 4:50 p.m., when they lifted the lockdown on Old Campus and Calhoun College.

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