Police make arrests after drive-by shooting behind Science Hill forces 10 schools into lockdown
New Haven police tracked down the two cars they suspect were involved and arrested three men in connection with the shooting.
Police have arrested three people suspected of being involved in a drive-by shooting a block behind Science Hill, which forced 10 New Haven schools into lockdown on Monday.
New Haven police were dispatched to 31 Lawrence Street at 8:54 a.m. after witnesses reported two vehicles chasing each other while rounds were being fired from at least one of the vehicles. Currently, no hospitals in the area are reporting gunshot wounds and there have been no other records of a person being shot.
Yale police issued a Yale Alert email at 9:02 a.m. informing students about the shooting. The Yale Police Department then issued an all-clear at 10:39 a.m. Meanwhile, New Haven Public School students and parents expressed frustration about the multiple lockdowns that schools in the city have seen in recent months.
“It’s extremely frustrating, and a lot of students are fed up with the constant threat of violence and instability in places where we are supposed to be safe,” Board of Education Student Representative Dave Cruz-Bustamante told the News. “I applaud all the students, teachers, administrators and workers who get us through this, and I hope we start to center healing justice more after these events, rather than pretend like they never happen.”
The two cars involved in the shooting, according to New Haven Police Department public information officer Rose Dell, were a Dodge Durango and an Acura MDX.
Later in the day on Monday, police found the Acura MDX in Fair Haven riddled with bullets, according to a press release from the NHPD. They reported that the vehicle had been stolen in Hamden the day prior. Police also found the Durango they believe was involved in the incident on Leeder Hill Road in Hamden. After tracing the vehicles, officers arrested three men with “several” illegally held guns.
New Haven resident Ben Berkowitz said he spotted around a dozen NHPD officers at Leeder Hill Road.
NHPD did not offer further information about the arrests, but police believe that the individuals arrested were involved in the shooting. NHPD Police Chief Karl Jacobson told the News that the city will host a press conference on Tuesday about the incident.
Immediately after the shots were reported, NHPD officers informed principals at nearby New Haven schools, forcing 10 schools to go into lockdowns. Once police were certain that no threat remained, the schools’ shelter-in-place warning was lifted and classes resumed regularly.
The 10 schools were Wilbur Cross, Hillhouse, East Rock, King Robinson, Worthington Hooker, Celentano, Wexler-Grant, Obama, Lincoln-Bassett and the Mayo Early Learning Center.
“I hope that it doesn’t become so regular that it is ignored,” BOE Member Darnell Goldson told the News. “Clearly the troublemakers don’t have enough fear of the political leaders in this city, translating into less fear of the criminal Justice system.”
According to New Haven Public Schools spokesperson Justin Harmon, the lockdowns began as full lockdowns in which people had to shelter in place.
As police cleared the scene and worked to issue an all-clear, the shelter-in-place order transitioned to partial lockdowns where people could freely move around in the building, but no one could enter or leave the schools.
“The schools were locked down based on their proximity to the shooting and the police response,” Harmon told the News. “We notified families via email and robocalls.”
Berkowitz said he was driving to drop his children off at school when he saw the shooting unfold in front of him.
According to Berkowitz, a black SUV — which was the Dodge Durango — “barged” into the intersection around 8:20 a.m. on Whitney Avenue where Berkowitz was driving. The Durango was closely following another car. Berkowitz said he then saw a man lean out of the passenger seat, point a pistol at the Acura MDX and shoot the weapon.
Berkowitz made a left turn and got out of his car near a woman who was hiding behind a tree, after which he then called 911. The officer who responded to the scene found three bullet casings, Berkowitz said, while other bystanders said that they had heard ten to twelve shots in total.
Berkowitz later drove around the neighborhood where he said he witnessed NHPD officers at the house on Leeder Hill Road where the three young men were arrested.
“I’ve grown up in New Haven all of my life, so I’ve known violence,” Berkowitz told the News. “It just feels close when your own kids are in lockdown. Violence seems to be spreading in our neighborhood.”
New Haven Public Schools serves 19,000 students.