Police are still searching for a gunman they say fired at police officers on College Street early Sunday morning.
As clubs on Crown Street were closing at about 2 a.m., three men got into a shootout near the intersection of Crown and College streets, one block from Old Campus, New Haven Police Chief Frank Limon said in an interview. When nearby police officers responded, one of the gunmen shot at the them; police returned fire, but the shooter fled and has not been caught, Limon said.
He added that the other two gunmen were hit by gunfire, though police have yet to determine whether they were shot in the original gun battle or by police as they returned fire. Police are interviewing the two wounded gunmen and other witnesses to gather an accurate description of the wanted man, Limon said.
Both wounded men were transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven Police Lieutenant Joe Witkowski said early Sunday morning. City Hall Spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said they sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Mayorga said three police officers fired during the shootout. Though Limon said the investigation is ongoing, from the account he has received, he said he thinks the officers’ shooting was justified.
“In my experience, when you have officers in uniform and shots are fired, they are trying to protect themselves and protect others in the area,” he said.
Limon said the downtown entertainment district was fully staffed when the incident occurred Sunday, with 12 officers and one supervisor on duty.
“You can only do so much,” Limon added.
Ward 7 Alderwoman Frances “Bitsie” Clark, in whose ward the shootout occurred, said she is “horrified” by the incident and that it is a “call to assembly.”
Clark said she has been working with local bar and club owners to redress the amount of violence in the city’s downtown nightlife district. She said Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s current proposal to add a specially trained police detail to district is a good one, and that Sunday’s shootout is an impetus to find a solution.
“I don’t believe that you stop having an entertainment district — it’s very good for our economic development — but we certainly have to do something to prevent this from happening again,” Clark said.
Esther Zuckerman contributed reporting.