For the past few weeks, New Haven community members have been grappling with the aftermath of a shooting which left one West Haven man dead and a high ranking New Haven Police Department officer injured.
At approximately 9:23 p.m. on Aug. 12, shots were fired in the area of Dixwell Avenue and Henry Street. Roughly a minute later, NHPD Captain and Spokesperson Anthony Duff — who was off-duty at the time — happened upon the area and informed the Department via radio that he was observing an active shooting scene. According to NHPD Chief Otoniel Reyes at an Aug. 13 press conference, Duff immediately engaged in a pursuit with the suspect, and the suspect turned around and shot him several times. After sustaining several injuries, Duff appealed for more support.
Before Duff arrived on the scene, 46-year-old Troy Clark of West Haven was shot and killed by the suspect who injured Duff during the encounter. Clark received medical care at the scene, but did not survive his injuries.
“We’re here not just because we had one of our own almost got shot and killed, but we also had a member of this community murdered on this street less than 12 hours ago. So we have to collectively say that we won’t tolerate this,” Reyes said at the press conference. “We are here to say, you will not engage with violence toward one of our own. We will not stand for it.”
An investigation into the shooting is still open. Reyes described the suspect as a black male with long braids and a goatee who was on foot at the time of the shooting. Because the incident involved a police officer, the state’s attorney’s office is spearheading the investigation.
“Make no mistake about it, we will find you,” said Reyes, addressing the suspect at the press conference. “You will not turn your gun against a police officer who is just trying to make sure that he affirms the oath that he has made to the community.”
Immediately after Duff alerted the Department of the shooting, four NHPD officers — Sergeants Christopher Cameron and Shayna Kendall, as well as officers Ramonel Torres and Joseph Perrotti — responded to the scene and provided life-saving medical care to Duff. Duff was taken to Yale New Haven Hospital via ambulance.
After receiving care and recovering in the hospital for ten days, Duff left the Yale-New Haven Hospital on the morning of Aug. 22.
A video posted on social media by New Haven Register reporter Ben Lambert showed hundreds of NHPD officers creating an aisle at the hospital’s exit as Duff walked out, saluting him in unison as he passed by. He was escorted by his wife and the four NHPD officers who provided medical attention to him at the scene of the shooting. Community members who gathered outside the hospital greeted the officer with loud cheers and applause.
“You are a true hero to all who know you,” said a voice on a loudspeaker during Duff’s walk through the aisles. “Thank you for your extraordinary service, and we are all wishing you a healthy and a speedy recovery.”
Mayor Toni Harp and Reyes, who were in the audience, helped Duff to the vehicle, and he left the hospital. Harp said that all New Haven community members should feel gratitude for the “selfless valor” of Duff, and the “responsibility every police officer takes on” during each shift.
In a Facebook post, Harp described Duff’s discharge from the hospital as “a remarkable demonstration of unity, and a moving tribute to [Duff] … It was a proud moment for New Haven.” She said that Duff’s decision to take action when he was off-duty speaks to his “non-stop commitment to his police work and his personal valor.”
Kendall, whom the Department commended for her response at the scene, has filled in for Duff as interim media liaison and public information officer. On Tuesday, Kendall told the News that the Department is not extending interviews to Duff at the time. Kendall told the News that the top priority for Duff is his recovery, and that he and the Department have not yet spoken to him about when he will return to work.
Duff is a 24-year veteran of the New Haven Police Department.
Sammy Westfall | firstname.lastname@example.org .