James Richardson, Contributing Photographer

New Haven Police are investigating an incident in which a Yale student was shot early Friday morning by a paintball at 202 York St. along Library Walk. Multiple other paintball attacks occurred around the same time, though they were not reported to authorities. 

In a public safety alert to the Yale community mid-morning Friday, Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins wrote that an undergraduate student was struck on the arm and hand by a paintball while walking. No serious injuries have been reported. He reported the shots came from a dark-colored sedan with multiple individuals which fled north on York Street. The News spoke with two students who said they were shot that night and one witness of paintball shots fired near Saybrook college. One student was James Richardson ’24, who is a reporter for the News. Richardson was the only student the News spoke to who called Yale Security.

The crimes were reminiscent of years’ past. In the span of two weeks last October, seven Yale students reported being assaulted by paintball guns on or near campus. In the leadup to Halloween this year, Higgins said the YPD discussed the possibility of paintball assaults in its most recent staff meeting. The Department planned to increase YPD visibility over the Halloween season to prevent such assaults.

“Even one is too many,” Higgins said.

Richardson said he was walking with AirPods in to pick up a sandwich he ordered from Good Nature Market. He said he exited from Jonathan Edwards College on York Street towards Broadway. On Library Walk — the pathway between Branford and JE — he said that he heard a loud sound of the paintball shots being fired. 

“My hand felt really hot so I looked down and then I saw yellow paint on my hand and realized I just got shot by a paintball,” Richardson said.

Richardson was hit on his right pointer finger, which he said hurt for the next few hours and was swollen for about a day. The paint splashed next to him on a wall and splattered onto his shirt and jeans. 

“I wouldn’t say it was an injury, it hurt a little bit,” Richardson said. 

Richardson said he saw a dark car drive past and heard the passengers laughing as they drove away. Because the email was sent to the entire Yale community, Richardson said that since he told his friends he was hit, “I have become somewhat of a minor celebrity.”

Higgins said he could not comment on any leads as it is an active investigation. He said that detectives have information about vehicles involved and the Yale Police Department is working closely with the NHPD to check area cameras.

In his alert, Higgins noted there were other paintball incidents reported throughout New Haven Friday. In an interview with the News, Higgins said these incidents were not near Yale’s campus.

He said in the last couple of years there has been an increase in paintball assaults nationwide, which he says has occurred in New Haven as well.

Higgins encouraged community members to read safety alerts and report any pertinent information that may be useful.

Jose Davila IV ’22, a former managing editor for the News, was walking home with friends between 12:30 and 1 a.m. Friday morning in front of Saybrook College on Elm Street. A black SUV drove by in the middle lane and fired four to five paintballs.

Davila was hit with one yellow paintball on the back of his thigh, he said. He added that a couple of people in a group walking ahead were hit as well.

“Maybe there was a little bruise on my thigh but otherwise I’m fine,” Davila said. He reported that the people in the group ahead also did not appear to be injured.

Davila said his pants are still drying from the paint — “it was pretty chalky” — and that he is planning to clean out the paint in his next round of laundry.

Davila was unable to catch a license plate. Without businesses and in the middle of the block, Davila said he would be “surprised” if cameras caught a license plate. He speculated the only cameras that could have caught the car on film as they were shot could be the gates near Trumbull and Saybrook colleges.

“And those are just the blue light cameras that are meant to look at the gates more than they’re supposed to look at the roads,” Davila said.

Faiz Shoaib ’25 said he was walking to Good Nature Market around 12:30 a.m. Friday morning when he saw a car in the distance slow down as it passed him near the Saybrook gate. 

Shoaib said he heard the paintballs splatter against the wall and heard someone in a group walking ahead of him say, “Ow.” He estimated there were eight to 10 shots fired in yellow and purple paint.

“They weren’t really distraught, it was more like confusion,” Shoaib said. He added the shooter was aiming at people’s legs. “It seemed like there was no intent to do harm,” he said.

“It reminded me to not walk around late at night unless you really have to,” he said.

Shoaib said that more lighting to increase street visibility along sidewalks where students were hit could help pedestrians and police to better identify cars.

In the state of Connecticut, paintball guns are regulated with rules requiring anyone under 18 years old to use a paintball gun at home under parental supervision.

Clarification, Nov. 2: The first sentence of this article previously did not mention that the student was shot by a paintball. It has been updated.

SOPHIE SONNENFELD
Sophie Sonnenfeld covers cops and courts. She is a first-year in Branford College majoring in anthropology.