A shootout in the Dwight neighborhood Friday night left one man dead and five others injured, leading neighbors, including some Yale students, to worry about a resurgence of gang violence in the city.
Dozens of shots rang out at approximately 9:30 p.m. at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Orchard Street — less than half a mile from the Yale campus — and persisted for about 10 minutes, several Dwight residents said.
Dwight resident John Thomas, 22, died Saturday morning in the Hospital of St. Raphael. Sixteen-year-old Michelle Crutchfield and William Murphy, 30, remained in serious condition at Yale-New Haven Hospital Saturday, while another man was in stable condition at St. Raphael’s. A fifth victim was treated and released from St. Raphael’s, and a sixth refused treatment at the scene. All were New Haven residents.
Further details of the shooting were unavailable over the weekend. No arrests had been made as of Saturday.
Some residents speculated that the violence could indicate a return of the gang warfare that has plagued the city in the past. Lt. Brian Norwood, the head of the New Haven Police Department’s investigative services division, said police were investigating reports that two rival groups had exchanged gunfire.
Ward 2 aldermanic candidate Joyce Chen, a Dwight resident, said she thought the shooting was part of a gang-related turf war.
“I think that at least one of the victims was affiliated with a local gang and that the others might just have gotten caught in the crossfire,” Chen said. “The shooters were probably a rival gang.”
Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said Sunday night that some of the weapons recovered from the crime scene resembled those frequently obtained from gang-related altercations.
But DeStefano said he did not think Friday’s incident was a result of gang activity.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as gang warfare,” he said. “We think it was some groups — not from our neighborhood — taking their violence into our town.”
DeStefano and New Haven Police Chief Melvin Wearing were quick to condemn the violence after meeting with each other Saturday morning.
“It’s unacceptable, and we will not tolerate this behavior,” DeStefano said.
Wearing promised that his department would find the shooters and said police were following up on “promising leads,” according to the New Haven Register.
“I’m not going to sleep until these people are arrested and locked up,” Wearing told the Register. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had this kind of violence on our streets.”
The Dwight neighborhood, which is home to a number of Yale students, saw a handful of shootings in a two-week period this summer. Police said they did not think Friday’s incident was related.
Orchard Street resident Vaughn Collins was hosting a neighborhood watch meeting when the shooting started.
“Near the end of the meeting, the three or four of us left heard a flurry of gunshots,” Collins said. “The first thing we did was to shut the windows and make sure the kids didn’t get out.”
“Our children and neighbors could have been hurt,” he added.
Until Friday, many Dwight residents said they felt their neighborhood was about as safe as any other.
“I never really thought of where I live as a violent place for the most part,” Edgewood Avenue resident Nicholas Szydlowski ’02 said. “I lived on Edgewood last year, too, and it never stuck out in my mind as a place for gangs.”
“It’s been fairly quiet here for a couple of years, and this definitely makes me think about things more,” he said.
Chen, the aldermanic candidate, said she is worried New Haven is not doing all it can to put a stop to gang violence. She cited a lack of after-school supervised activities as a main cause of gang participation.
Surrounding neighborhoods like Dixwell have community houses that organize after-school projects to occupy local children, Chen said.
“We don’t have anything,” she said.
Chen said the Kensington Street area — just one block from the shooting — is a major breeding ground for gang activity.
Many children who attend Dwight School wander nearby Kensington Street after school ends and are targeted by local gangs, including some responsible for a series of gang-related shootings in the late 1980s and early ’90s.
Still, Chen said she thought the shooting represented an isolated incident, a sentiment also expressed by DeStefano and current Ward 22 Alderwoman Joyce Poole.
But Collins was not so sure.
“I just have this feeling that it’s not quite finished yet,” Collins said. “It just doesn’t seem over.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this article.