Two murders in the Elm City in the course of less than two days have nearly doubled the city’s homicide count this year, taking it from three to five.
Jericho Scott, 16, and Lyndell Moore, 29, died of gunshot wounds early Sunday morning and Monday afternoon, respectively. Amid steadily declining rates of violent crime, the homicides have rocked the city, which has aimed to make prevention of youth violence a priority.
Brenda Foskey-Cyrus, an alder in the Newhallville neighborhood, where the Monday shooting occurred, said she knew the victim’s family personally. She said community members are gathering next week to devise measures to quell the recent bout of violence.
“At this point the town is just devastated with the matters going on,” Foskey-Cyrus said. “We’re still in the planning stages of how we’re going to go about handling the situation. You have to come out with a strategy.”
The strategies the city has instituted, including YouthStat — a program designed to identify and assist at-risk children — appear not to have protected Jericho, who was caught in a shooting over the weekend.
Shortly after midnight on April 19, the New Haven Police Department received a report of a double shooting on Exchange Street. Upon arriving at the scene, officers found two victims of gunshot wounds. One, identified by NHPD Spokesman David Hartman as 20-year-old Justin Compress, was shot in his shoulder, hand and wrist, but was in stable condition. The second victim was identified as Jericho by the New Haven Register. He was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital, but died of his injuries later that morning.
New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Garth Harries ’95 released a statement that day expressing grief over the loss of the high school student.
“Each child lost to gun violence leaves an indelible mark on our community and is a heart-wrenching reminder of our urgent need to stop the killings,” Harries said.
Harries, a central leader of YouthStat, said members of the team would be meeting the following day, Monday, to address the youth’s murder.
Detectives later discovered a third victim, Tyrese Little, 19. Little, who had sought treatment for a gunshot wound at Bridgeport Hospital, told detectives that he had been shot in Milford. But the detectives ascertained that Little, who was “less than cooperative,” according to a NHPD release, had lied. In fact, he was shot on Exchange Street, along with Compress and Jericho.
NHPD investigators have evidence to suggest that the crime was not a random one, and that the group was specifically targeted. However, there have been no leads on suspects.
Less than 38 hours later, police responded to another call. At 1:22 p.m. Monday, a police officer heard a vehicle crash at the intersection of Orchard Place and Charles Street. When additional officers arrived at the scene, they found Lyndell Moore, 29. He was unconscious in the driver’s seat.
According to Hartman, Moore was shot inside his car on Townsend Street, but continued to drive until crashing at the intersection. The first officer, who reported that Moore was unconscious, requested EMTs to the scene. When the emergency responders removed Moore’s shirt, they discovered that he had been shot several times in the torso. He was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he succumbed to the gunshot wounds.
Mayor Toni Harp did not address the homicides publicly. Her spokesman, Laurence Grotheer, said she “joins all city residents in somber regret for this recent rash of violence.”
As of Hartman’s last briefing on Monday evening, there is still no suspect information available other than an earlier unconfirmed report that three men wearing grey sweatshirts were seen leaving the area. Another report suggests one man wearing a grey-hooded sweatshirt was seen leaving the area, according to an NHPD release.
Despite the short span of time separating the two homicides, nothing has yet been said to connect these two crimes, according to Grotheer.
Foskey-Cyrus said the shootings have reopened debates over safety in the Elm City. Previous data had shown dropping homicide rates in New Haven, with a 64.7 percent decrease from 2011 to 2014.
“Once [the police] started focusing on the shooting, they had it tied down,” Foskey-Cyrus said. “Now we’re going back to that old shooting pattern.”