The owners of Fashionista Vintage & Variety, a vintage clothing store on Whitney Avenue, this week accused members of the Yale secret society Berzelius of breaking one of the store’s glass windows on Saturday night.
Someone who said he was in Triangle Park — a park at the intersection of Trumbull, Whitney, and Temple streets — on Saturday night claims to have seen a group of young people wearing cloaks exit the Berzelius building across the street from the park, Fashionista co-owner Todd Lyon told the News. The “loud, rowdy and drunk” group crossed the street, knocked over trash cans in the park and then began threatening the witness when he told them to pick the cans up, according to Lyon, who said the witness approached him with the account on Sunday morning. Lyon declined to give the witness’s name, and the society has said it will investigate the incident.
On Sunday, the store owners discovered a large, heavy rock that had been thrown through the front window and shards of glass all over the floor. Fashionista’s owners later placed a sign outside the broken window that read, “We have reason to believe that our window was smashed on 4-21 by drunken members of Berzelius, a Yale secret society whose goals include ‘a moral life … devoted to good character … (+ service) to their communities.’”
While Lyon emphasized that the man in the park could not have seen the vandals throw the rock from his vantage point, she said the witness claims to have heard a “fair amount of hooting and hollering” as the group crossed the street toward Fashionista.
New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman told the News on Tuesday that the police report on the incident is not yet available but that he would provide a copy when it becomes available. He did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
In a statement, Berzelius’s members neither confirmed nor denied the allegations, but said they are investigating the situation.
“We, the members of Berzelius and the society as a whole, are very sorry to hear that Fashionista was victim to such vandalism and that a man was harassed so unjustly,” the statement said. “No one should be subject to such actions. We take this incident very seriously, and we have been investigating the situation.”
Nancy Kelly, who manages the Berzelius building on Trumbull Street, said that when she entered the building on Sunday, there was no evidence that anyone had been there the previous night. She said she had found “nothing to support the notion that Berzelius had any involvement in this unfortunate occurrence.”
Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun said he did not want to comment on the matter until the police investigation is complete, though he added that “any damage towards local businesses is regrettable.”
While Lyon acknowledged that the shop owners need more than one eyewitness report to confirm the allegations, she said they have no reason to disbelieve the person who was in the park. Still, Lyon said that in general Berzelius has been a “fantastic neighbor” and has never caused problems before.
“A lot of this is conjecture, we’re not saying absolutely that this was someone from Berzelius, but the signs sure point to it,” said Nancy Shea, the other co-owner of Fashionista. “For us, it hurts our feelings for someone to do that to us. It’s like c’mon, don’t do this stuff to small business owners.”
Berzelius is Yale’s third oldest society.
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