The Yale Police Department confirmed reports of a shooting at midnight on Sunday near Park and Chapel Streets, the first such crime in several weeks, and arrested at least one man following the incident.
No one was injured in the gunfire, Yale Police Department Chief James Perrotti wrote in an e-mail to the Yale community Monday afternoon. The YPD later arrested Rodney Johnson, 20, at around 1:20 a.m., approximately an hour following the incident, on charges of carrying a dangerous weapon and criminal trespassing in the third degree after he was found entering a Yale parking lot while carrying a BB gun, YPD spokesman Lt. Michael Patten said.
Patten said his officers had remained in the area of the gunfire and noticed Johnson running into Yale parking lot 80 in the area of Howe and Chapel Streets and followed him. Other arrests were made, and the YPD has increased its patrols in the area, Perrotti said.
Witnesses said they saw a large group of youths congregating around Park and Chapel Streets. The youths had come from an underage party at Image Nightclub, Perotti said in his e-mail.
Ayman Gepril, an employee at the Est Est Est Ristorante near the corner of Chapel and Park Streets, said the crowd had been dispersed by a police officer who had come through earlier, but they all returned minutes later and the shooting starting soon after. He said he saw two men shoot at the group. Gepril and several other witnesses said they were unsure if the shots came from a BB gun or a real gun. Gepril said he called 911 to report the gunfire, prompting 10 to 12 police cars from Yale and New Haven Police to respond.
“I’m not sure if it was a real gun, but it was very loud,” Gepril said.
NHPD spokeswoman Bonnie Winchester could not be reached for comment.
The spillover from the underage parties causes trouble every weekend, Gepril said.
“Every Sunday we have the same problem,” he said. “They start fights here on Park Street.”
Image Nightclub owner Dennis Dean said the club has never had any security-related problems. Dean said his club has held 37 parties for 13- to 18-year-olds over the last year and a half, and does not serve alcohol at these events.
“We have security guards on the premises during the party,” Dean said. “We have five police officers outside the front door that we hire. I’m proud to say that we’re the only club that’s never had a problem here.”
The last violent crime near campus was on Sept. 23, when Tristan Taylor GRD ’09 was robbed at gunpoint early in the evening near the corner of Temple and Wall Streets. Theodore DeLong DRA ’07 on Aug. 31 was shot in the right hand during an attempted robbery near the intersection of Dwight and Elm Streets.
Highsmith said Yale Police had instituted new walking patrols in the area of Park, Howe and Dwight Streets and Lake Place several weeks ago in response to a series of robberies and DeLong’s shooting. The YPD has also increased patrols on campus, she said.
Highsmith said she is unsure whether the incident Sunday night signifies a rise in crime near campus.
“We had not had violent crime for several weeks,” she said. “We will watch to see if it is part of a trend.”
Image Nightclub is slated to be replaced with a new magnet arts and humanities school in the coming year. Highsmith said she thinks the club’s closing could prevent violent disputes like those Sunday night from happening.
Details of Johnson’s trial date or bail were unavailable on Monday, Columbus Day, due to the legal holiday.