Three of the five teenagers suspected of assaulting a 79-year-old Yale professor two weeks ago were apprehended and charged by New Haven Police Wednesday evening.
New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman said the professor was walking home Nov. 27 when he was punched, kicked and thrown to the ground by five young men who approached him from behind. The assault occurred near the corner of Bradley Street and Whitney Avenue, just a block away from the Yale School of Management. According to Hartman, the professor, who said he lost consciousness after the assault, told police he discovered his backpack and wallet were gone after he regained consciousness. The NHPD statement said officers were able to locate the faculty member’s wallet soon after the crime. When the faculty member returned home, his wife phoned for help and he was taken to hospital. Though the professor’s name has not been released, email alerts from the Yale Police Department and NHPD reported assaults at the same time and location, indicating that he is a Yale faculty member.
“As EMTs took the man to the hospital, officers began their search for the cowards responsible for this heinous attack,” Hartman said in a Thursday press release.
Hartman said the professor was walking from Hillhouse Avenue after a day of work when he spotted five men pass him on Whitney Avenue and again on Bradley Street. He told police one of the men was on a bicycle and another was “obese.” One witness of the incident said he did not realize the men were assaulting the professor until after the men had fled the scene and he was clearly lying on the ground, Hartman said.
On Thursday evening, Hartman said detectives arrested 18-year-old Kelton Gilbert Jr. of Mix Avenue in Hamden, 19-year-old Lawrence Minor Jr. of Lloyd Street in New Haven and a 17-year-old male New Haven resident whose name has not been released because he is a minor. The three were charged with first-degree assault, first-degree assault on an elderly person, first-degree robbery, second-degree larceny, reckless endangerment and conspiracy to commit all of the aforementioned criminal charges. The teens, who confessed to the crime, admitted that two others participated in the robbery, but would not identify them. These two individuals are still at large and detectives encourage anyone with information to reach out to investigators.
Hartman said Thursday that many clues came from reviewing surveillance recordings in the area. But he said it was the work of officers and detectives that ultimately led to the arrest. Hartman also acknowledged that the YPD was instrumental in identifying the perpetrators.
“Once again, New Haven Detectives have done remarkable work on this investigation,” NHPD Chief Dean Esserman said.
Faculty members interviewed did not express concerns about the safety of the area.
Philosophy professor Karsten Harries GRD ’62, who walked 2.5 miles to campus every day for 50 years until hip problems prevented him from doing so, said he always felt safe when he did his daily commute to work on foot.
History of Science and Medicine Director of Undergraduate Studies Bill Rankin walks to and from campus every day, and lives a few doors down from the professor who was attacked. He said in an email to the News that their neighborhood association is planning to meet on Sunday to talk about neighborhood safety and to find ways to work more closely with police following the assault.
Rankin said he usually feels safe because many other people take the same route he does. But Rankin said he takes steps to protect his property in the event of a theft, such as backing up his laptop and encrypting sensitive files. He acknowledged that not everyone feels safe walking through the city alone.
The Nov. 27 assault is the most recent crime the Yale community has been informed about by Chief of Yale Police and Director of Public Safety Ronnell Higgins.