Shots were fired near the Yale campus this weekend for the fifth time since the beginning of March.
An early Saturday morning shooting at the corner of Elm and Howe streets, next to Alpha Delta Pizza and two blocks from Davenport College, sent New Haven Police patrol cars rushing to the scene. Although the Yale Police Department did not send officers to the area after the shooting, YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins sent an email to the Yale Community that morning telling them of the incident. About 12 hours later, students received another email from Higgins on Saturday alerting the community to a robbery on Mansfield St. near Starr St., one block west of Prospect Street above the Divinity School, around 12:30 p.m. Both incidents fit into a pattern of shootings and robberies that have plagued the areas immediately surrounding Yale’s campus for the past month.
Outside Alpha Delta around 2:35 a.m. Saturday morning, at least five shots were fired, said NHPD Lt. Ray Hassett, the commanding officer at the crime scene. Hassett said the police did not yet know of any injuries sustained duirng the shooting.
After reports of the gunfire, six squad cars arrived at the scene and police cordoned off part of Howe St. to search for evidence. They eventually found five separate shell casings, Hasset said, although no witnesses were immediately located.
Several customers inside Alpha Delta Pizza at the time of the shooting said they did not hear any gunshots, though they said that the restaurant was noisy.
“Is it safe here?” one asked when she saw the multiple police cars blocking off the nearby street.
Saturday is not the first time gunfire was heard at the Howe and Elm intersection; a Dec. 2009 shooting outside of Alpha Delta sent two men to Yale-New Haven Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Following that shooting, NHPD officials recommended that nearby restaurants — including Alpha Delta Pizza, Brick Oven Pizza, and Main Garden Chinese restaurant — close their doors by 1 a.m.. All three restaurants complied through the month of January 2010, but Alpha Delta converted back to its normal hours afterwards.
As of Sunday night, Alpha Delta had not reinstated its 2010 earlier hours. The restaurant is still open until 4 a.m. on the weekends and 3 a.m. on weekdays, according to a cashier who would not give his name.
Though the restaurant’s hours have not changed, the response of the YPD has.
At the time of the Dec. 2009 shooting, then-YPD Chief James A. Perrotti did not send any alert about the shooting to the the Yale community. This year, Higgins notified the Yale community within two hours of the incident. In addition to alerting the campus, Higgins also asked that Yalies “please avoid the area while police conduct their investigation.”
Despite the recent spike in violence, the city has not seen a statistically significant increase in shootings this year, NHPD Spokesman Joe Avery said last week.
But the shootings that have occurred recently have been close to campus.
One of these incidents, a Mar. 23 shooting at Toad’s Place on York Street, represented another case of New Haven crime touching popular Yale late-night venues.
Following the shooting at Toad’s, Higgins expanded the YPD’s patrols. And after a graduate student was mugged behind Pierson on Mar. 28, YPD Spokesman Lt. Steven Woznyk said the officers on the streets and in patrol cars had officially been doubled.
“Our decisions on patrols and deployment are always informed by events and other relevant factors,” Higgins said in an email to the News after the Toad’s shooting. “We have the ability to quickly devote effective resources to any area or crime issue around campus in coordination with the New Haven police.”
Eight out of 10 non-freshmen students interviewed after Saturday’s mugging said they thought New Haven had become more dangerous than last year.
Howe and Elm streets include many undergraduate off-campus houses and popular late-night eateries so there is heavy foot traffic in the area on Friday and Saturday nights.
The number of shootings in New Haven has gone down every year since 2007. One hundred forty-nine individuals were shot in 2009, and 124 were shot in 2010.