Crowded with Yale men clad in springtime seersucker, the Elizabethan Club’s afternoon tea was not an ideal hiding place for a 15-year-old “hoodlum” who was trying to flee police Tuesday afternoon.
The teen was apprehended by police shortly after committing an assault on the New Haven Green, according to witnesses, but not before he dropped in on the Elizabethan Club in the midst of his attempted getaway. The encounter was somewhat out of the ordinary for members of a society more typically known for its priceless trove of Shakespeare first editions and discussions on weighty matters of literature than for playing host to police chases.
The saga began when the teen allegedly assaulted a person on the Green and drew the attention of police. Heading up College Street, the suspect momentarily evaded the officers — but wandered straight into a scene out of “The Great Gatsby.”
Ducking out of public view, the suspect hopped the fence of The Lizzie, as the club is known, and sauntered into its garden in an apparent attempt to hide from the cops, Lizzie member Daniel Weisfield ’07 said. But rather than laying low in a quiet backyard, the teenager found himself face to face with several Grand Strategy alumni — dapperly attired in boating hats — who were lounging in the spring sun, sipping their afternoon tea, Weisfield said.
Several Lizzie members asked the teen if they could help with anything, witnesses said, but it appeared that his getaway took precedence.
“When he bolted without answering it became apparent that he hadn’t hopped the fence simply to get a better look at the garden,” Weisfield said in an e-mail. “Returning my tea cup to its saucer, I chased him out onto College Street and up Wall Street, where he whirled in front of Scroll and Key, then back down Wall Street into the outstretched hands of the New Haven police.”
Before the teen’s arresting interruption, Weisfield was sitting under the club’s gazebo sipping tea with former Calhoun College Associate Master Elizabeth Sledge, Weisfield said.
The teen looked to be about a sophomore in high school, Sledge said, and was wearing a large backpack. Police told her he had been in a fight on the Green, she said.
“People were very surprised at first,” Sledge said.
A spokesperson for the New Haven Police Department declined to comment on the incident Tuesday.
It was an utterly modern scene for a club that might prefer to relocate itself to 16th century England, where a few well-dressed gentlemen could enjoy their afternoon tea without eight to 10 police officers running around apprehending teenage ruffians, as was the case Tuesday, witnesses said.
The Lizzie, founded in 1911, was endowed by an 1896 alumnus who thought the University needed a permanent haven for intellectual discourse and intimate conversation about Shakespearean literature and other Elizabethan concerns.
The Lizzie is said to be able to bear the brunt of an attack from someone far more violent than the suspect apprehended Tuesday. Its vault, legend has it, can withstand a direct hit by a howitzer shell.