Five months after the city’s police chiefs conceded that a malicious hoax had triggered the lockdown on Yale’s campus in November, they took to the podium to announce the arrest of the man they say made the initial false report.
A Wednesday morning press release from New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman named 50-year-old Jeffrey Jones of Westbrook, Conn., as the person charged with falsely reporting that his roommate was on his way to campus “to start shooting people.” Later, NHPD Chief Dean Esserman was joined by Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins to recount the investigation and eventual arrest. Esserman said investigators from both departments have pursued the case diligently from the moment the lockdown was lifted, and that their efforts culminated in the Tuesday arrest.
Jones faces charges of falsely reporting an incident, second-degree threatening, second-degree reckless endangerment, misuse of the emergency 911 system and a breach of peace.
“We are very clear that we have brought the right person to justice,” Esserman said. “And we’re very clear that this person needs to be held accountable for the fear that he brought to this community.”
NHPD Assistant Chief Achilles Generoso said that his detectives, led by NHPD Detective Kealyn Nivakoff, identified Jones as a suspect early in the process.
Police used security footage of the area around 307 Columbus Ave., the address from which the caller contacted city police using a phone booth, to identify a person of interest. The resulting suspect description noted a man walking with a “distinctive gait,” and officers acted on Dec. 6 when they spotted Jones walking in a similar fashion. By this point, Jones was wanted for two separate outstanding warrants.
Though police did not present a potential motive for the call, Hartman’s release pointed to a history of contempt for police, including an incident during the same police encounter in which Jones berated officers for their involvement in the Dec. 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“All those kids died in Newtown,” Jones said, according to Hartman’s release. “You’re not doing [anything] about that.”
Hartman’s release added that Jones was reluctant to identify himself on the scene and attempted to distort his voice by covering his mouth while speaking, but police eventually obtained a warrant for a voice recording to compare against the original call.
Though Jones repeatedly attempted to disguise his voice, Hartman said, authorities reportedly found that it matched their recording of the initial 911 call.
“This case was worked on daily,” Generoso said. “It’s April — this case started at the end of November. We never lost sight of that, we kept investigating this incident. We used every resource available.”
Jones was arraigned in New Haven Superior Court on Wednesday and now faces a $200,000 bond, Generoso said. He added that Jones decided to turn himself into police on Tuesday after speaking with an attorney, but did not enter a plea in court.
Generoso added that Jones is also a suspect in another, similar case in which an anonymous caller told police that he was on his way to Hillhouse High School to shoot a specific teacher. Though police have not officially connected Jones to this incident, Hartman’s release said that they have found similarities with the nature and voice of the call leading to the Yale incident.
Police also list Jones as a person of interest in a third case involving a call made in Branford, Conn., and an incident from January has tied him to recent acts of vandalism targeting local police cars and facilities.
“I cannot emphasize [enough] how serious an incident this was,” Generoso said. “This individual was a menace to this city and has been for a while.”
307 Columbus Ave. is located around two miles from Yale’s campus.