Attempting to reassure Dwight residents that the fatal shooting on Friday Oct. 12 was an outside incident, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. adamantly stated that the shooters were not from New Haven — at least until last week.
The shooting, which took place around 9:30 p.m. on the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Orchard Street, left one man dead and five others injured. On the Tuesday after the incident, DeStefano, New Haven Police Chief Melvin H. Wearing and other police and political officials addressed over 100 Dwight residents in a public forum and fielded questions about the perpetrators of the fatal shooting.
“These are people, not from our town, who had a beef,” DeStefano said then.
In responding to similar questions, DeStefano subsequently reiterated that the shooters were not local.
But Lt. Bryan Norwood, the officer in charge of the Dwight shooting investigation, said this week he thinks the shooters are not in fact out-of-towners.
“We strongly think that the shooters are from New Haven,” Norwood said.
He would not comment on whether the perpetrators were from the Dwight neighborhood.
On Friday, DeStefano had trouble remembering exactly what he said at the forum, saying he did not recall saying the shooters were definitely not from New Haven.
“And I don’t know why I would have said it if I did,” he said.
At the forum Oct. 16, DeStefano also said he believed “groups of people” to be responsible, but that the shooting was not a gang-related incident.
Republican mayoral challenger Joel Schiavone ’58 disagreed with DeStefano’s assessment.
In a written statement, Schiavone said the Dwight shooting is the same type of incident as the gang warfare that dominated the neighborhood in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“Solutions need to be more comprehensive than the mayor’s nonsense about a random event as opposed to gang-related activity,” Schiavone said.
Some local politicians who work in the Dwight neighborhood agree with Schiavone.
Joyce Poole, the former alderwoman of Ward 23 — which includes parts of Dwight — said she thinks the shootout was certainly a byproduct of gang violence.
“I don’t think that point is debated,” Poole said.
Joyce Chen ’01, a Dwight resident and Green Party candidate in the Ward 2 aldermanic race, said she was “pretty sure” that a gang was responsible for the incident. Chen added that some of her discussions with Dwight residents have led her to believe that a gang from outside the Dwight neighborhood, but still from New Haven, initiated the shooting.
Current Ward 2 Alderwoman Linda Townsend-Maier declined to comment on whether she thought the incident was gang-related.
Last week, DeStefano elaborated on the characteristics of the shooters. He reiterated that groups, rather than individuals, are responsible for the events of Oct. 12. DeStefano also said the members of the groups in question “hang together,” but he did not label them as gangs.
“If you want to call it a gang, then I guess you could say it’s gang-related,” DeStefano said.
–Staff Reporter James Collins contributed to this story.