The New Haven Police Department is investigating a shot fired Sunday night outside Viva Zapata on Park Street, the second incident of gun violence to occur outside the bar and restaurant in just eight days.
A single shot was fired outside of Viva’s just after 10:30 p.m., NHPD Press Liaison Officer David Hartman said. No one was injured in the incident and the NHPD has not yet identified a shooter. Although restaurant staff told police there was no gunfire, officers found a shell casing outside on the pavement, according to an NHPD press release.
“This was related to patrons of Viva’s, as it was last week,” Hartman said.
On Sunday night, a witness saw two male patrons fighting outside Viva’s, according to the press release. The witness said he walked inside and heard a shot ring out. He then went back outside and saw two men fleeing the scene in opposite directions, the press release said.
In an interview with the News, however, Viva’s owner Bruce Keeton said the men involved in the altercation Sunday night were not at his bar before the incident.
Keeton said he was not at the bar Sunday night but that his doorman, who was sitting outside prior to the incident, told him he had seen about five men walking past the bar down Park Street toward Crown Street.
“My doorman told me that they were kind of joking and laughing with each other,” Keeton said.
Keeton said his doorman reported that at some point the mood within the group turned sour, and the men began arguing. He then went inside and did not hear a gunshot, according to Keeton.
Hartman dismissed Keeton’s account, saying he “was not interested in what that guy has to say.” Hartman declined to comment on how the NHPD concluded that those involved in the altercation were patrons of the bar.
Johanan Knight ’19 said he was in his room in an apartment building at 380 Crown St. when he heard what sounded like a gunshot coming from the direction of Park Street. He and the rest of his roommates rushed toward a window in the apartment overlooking the intersection of Crown Street and Park Street to see what had happened.
“I saw a bunch of people yelling and arguing in the intersection,” Knight said.
He added that police arrived on the scene only minutes later. An NHPD officer came to Knight’s door shortly after the incident, Knight said. When Knight’s roommate answered the door and explained to the officer what they had seen and heard, the officer advised Knight and the rest of the apartment’s occupants to lock their door and stay inside for the rest of the night.
Viva’s, a Mexican restaurant and bar located less than two blocks from Pierson College and adjacent to apartment buildings that house Yale students, made headlines last week when a scuffle outside the establishment late on a Saturday night resulted in a gunshot.
In that case, a man was hit in the forehead and abdomen by a bullet fragment and was sent to Yale New Haven Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. Keeton told the News that the people involved in that altercation had been at his bar previously and were thrown out by bar staff before the shooting occurred.
Hartman added that it was “highly unlikely” that the two incidences are related.
Last week’s shooting occurred at the same time as a party at the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house, which is less than a block away from Viva’s. Within an hour of the incident, Yale Alert sent an email to students alerting them to the danger and advising them to avoid the area until further notice.
But the University did not send out a similar email Sunday night, despite the fact that Sunday’s incident occurred in the same place as last Saturday’s. Raajii Daniel ’21 said he was surprised the University did not issue an email to students Sunday.
“I woke up last time and saw the email right away, and I was glad I was informed about it,” Daniel said.
Erin Krebs ’18 also said she was surprised that the University had not alerted students to the incident. She added that the news did not make her feel uncomfortable because she grew up in an urban area and was not a stranger to such occurrences.
University spokesperson Karen Peart wrote to the News in an email Monday night that the NHPD arrived on the scene Sunday in response to a report of an argument and a shot fired, but that a preliminary investigation by the NHPD did not reveal evidence of gunfire and revealed that the area was clear.
“At that point in time, consistent with federal law, an emergency notification was made and the conclusion was that such a notification was not warranted,” Peart said.
After this initial investigation, the NHPD found a shell casing at the scene, according to Peart.
Javier Alvarez ’19, who attended the AEPi Party last weekend, said it is concerning that the two reported gunshots took place in such quick succession and so close to campus. Still, he said he is not surprised.
“This is New Haven,” Alvarez said.
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