A man was hit by a stray bullet late Saturday night outside Viva Zapata, a restaurant and bar popular among Yale students that is just blocks from central campus.
Police were called to the scene just after midnight, when the city’s ShotSpotter system detected a gunshot fired in the area, said David Hartman, media liaison officer for the New Haven Police Department. Michael Urena, a 27-year-old New Haven resident, was grazed twice by bullet fragments — once on his forehead and once on his abdomen, Hartman said.
Urena’s injury was not life-threatening, and he was released from Yale New Haven Hospital about an hour after the incident occurred, according to Hartman.
As of Sunday afternoon, the NHPD had not made any arrests in relation to the shooting, Hartman said. None of the individuals involved in the incident are affiliated with the University, according to Yale Police Department Assistant Chief Steve Woznyk.
Students received two emails from a Yale Alert email account about the incident early Sunday morning. The first, sent at 12:47 a.m., said that police were investigating a shooting in the vicinity of Park and Crown streets and advised students to avoid the area until further notice. The second, sent at 1:52 a.m., confirmed that a man had been shot at the scene but said the incident posed no threat to campus and that Park Street had been reopened.
Urena told the NHPD that he saw a fight taking place outside the restaurant when he heard a single shot fired and realized he had been struck. Urena could not describe the shooter to the NHPD.
A little more than a block away from the scene of the shooting, the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity was hosting a party at the corner of Howe and Crown streets.
To avoid inciting panic, fraternity members told departing partygoers about the shooting as they left rather than making an announcement inside the party, said AEPi President Francisco Torres Rojo ’18. Members also advised students to steer clear of the area by returning to campus via Howe Street rather than Crown Street.
“There were a lot of people at the party at that hour, and my main concern was everybody’s safety,” Torres Rojo said. “Since we’re so close to a lot of bars, we’re used to rowdy behavior at night, but nothing even close to that level of violence.”
Claire Davidson ’21 said several of her friends were at the AEPi party when the shooting occurred. Davidson’s friends told her they were scared when they saw the first Yale Alert email and left the party immediately. She added that she was surprised at the shooting’s proximity to campus.
All four first years who spoke with the News for this story said their first-year counselors had touched on the shooting only briefly during FroCo meetings or not at all. Davidson said she was disappointed the incident was not addressed in her FroCo group.
“We talk a lot about staying safe on campus, but we don’t talk nearly as much about staying safe around New Haven,” she said.
Emily Xu ’21 said she was not surprised when she heard about the shooting because “it’s pretty well-known that this area is not the safest place.”
Lily Mirfakhraie ’19, who left the party at AEPi about 30 minutes before the first email was sent, said it was scary to hear about the incident, but she was not surprised.
“New Haven is a city and these are the sort of things that happen in cities,” she said.
Viva Zapata employees declined to comment to the News, and said talking about the incident would be bad for business.
Police are asking anyone with information on the shooting to call detectives at 203-946-6304. Calls may be made anonymously.
Contact Jon Greenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jacob Stern at email@example.com .