‘Nobody Feels Safe:' Neighbors Decry Gun Problem After Death of Grandmother

A 71-year-old woman was killed by a car fleeing a shootout in Hartford's North End, and neighbors say the tragedy is just one example of the violence they see on the streets.

When bullets rang out on the corner of Garden and Westland streets Thursday many people took cover. But 71-year-old Yvonne Smith, tragically caught in the middle of the crossfire, was struck and killed, not by bullets, but by one of the cars that gunfire was coming from, according to police.

They've arrested the person they think was behind the wheel, a boy who turned 16 this week. They say he was driving a stolen car from Manchester in reverse. 

"She's one of the people around here that brings hope to this neighborhood and now she's gone and she's going to be well missed,” said Tyrane Owns, who lives near the spot where Smith was mowed down.

As Owns mourned his friend and neighbor, he also worried about his hometown.

When asked if Hartford has a gun problem Owns responded, "We do absolutely. Clearly we do."

Smith wasn’t the first person killed on the corner of Garden and Westland streets. In 2017, Hartford police arrested two teens for shooting and killing Jeffrey Worrell, an innocent bystander who was sitting on a park bench at the very same intersection.

"Every other week, every other day, there’s the sound of gunfire going off in Hartford and yet we keep hearing Hartford’s a safe city. I guess they mean for the people who come into Hartford because for the people who live here in Hartford they’ll tell you in a heartbeat we don’t feel safe here,” said Reverend Henry Brown of Mothers United Against Violence.

Owns agreed.

“Nobody feels safe in this neighborhood,” he said.

Owns has lived in Hartford’s North End his entire life. He and his neighbors think it's only getting worse.

The shooting was too close for comfort to Loveen Davis who lives down the street from where Thursday’s tragedy unfolded.

"A few weeks ago twice in a row they shot on the side of my house. It could have been my grandkids, it could have been my daughters. That's scary," said Davis.

However, the violence that's seeped onto Loveen Davis' street is also becoming a sad almost-daily reality for who those who live here.

"I had to make them get down and now when my granddaughter hears the shots she just say get down,” she added.

Police took a 17-year-old from Hartford wounded in the shooting in for questioning but he has since been released. Police said more arrests are possible.

Henrietta Beckman, who lost her son to gun violence in Hartford, said the teens caught up in these crimes don't understand the consequences until it's too late.

"They haven't really even begun to live. Now some of them, their lives are going to be over,” said Beckman.

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