New Haven police responded to two homicides and two other shootings in a matter of hours Tuesday night and police and city officials are holding a news conference this afternoon to address what the mayor's office called "the growing violent crime in the Elm City."
The shootings Tuesday came a day after New Haven police detailed their concerns about an increase in gun violence in the city.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said the violence that happened last night and in recent days is unacceptable, he is heartbroken and there will be an emergency meeting this afternoon on how to collaboratively address the violence.
The mayor said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused financial hardship, leading to stress.
He also addressed reductions in the city's police force and said the city has serious financial problems and he needs to make difficult budget decisions.
Elicker said he values police and budget decisions are no indication that he does not, adding that the number of police officers in the city has been going down for years.
"We still have room to grow this force," Elicker said.
Police Chief Otoniel Reyes said they have to do the best with the resources available and some of the tools have been limited, so they have to strengthen partnerships and come together to get the community back on track.
Police believe three of the four shootings were retaliatory. Here is a glimpse at what happened Tuesday night:
6:05 P.M.: 40-Year-Old Hamden Man Killed
Police said the first shooting was at a home on Munson Street around 6 p.m. and the victim has been identified as 40-year-old Howard Lewis, of Hamden .Police said he was in a car and he was shot through the windshield.
He was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries and later died, police said.
His 15-year-old son and 18-year-old brother were in the car and they were not inured.
7 P.M.: 20-Year-Old New Haven Man Shot
Just after 7 p.m., officers were called to another shooting on Ferry Street near Fox Street in the Fair Haven neighborhood. A 20-year-old New Haven man was taken to the hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the leg.
8:20 P.M.: 18-Year-Old Hamden Man Shot
Officers responded to another shooting on State Street in the Cedar Hill neighborhood around 8:20 p.m. Police said the 18-year-old Hamden man had a gunshot wound to his chest.
10:11 P.M.: 33-Year-Old New Haven Man Killed
At 10:11 p.m. 10:15 p.m., police responded to a ShotSpotter activation and a 911 call of a person shot.
Officers said they found 33-year-old Ibrahim Valentino Shareef Jr., of New Haven, inside a corner store on Whalley Avenue, between Hobart Street and Blake Street.
Shareef was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, authorities said. Investigators said they believe they found the primary crime scene nearby on Blake Street.
Police said Shareef was a known gang member and he'd been released from prison in March after being charged in a shooting. Officials said they are investigating, but believe the shooting was in retaliation for the prior shooting that Shareef had been charged in.
Calls for Tips in Cases
Anyone with information on any of the shootings is asked to contact the New Haven Police Department at 203-946-6304.
Fatal Shootings Are 10th and 11th in New Haven This Year
The two homicides from Tuesday mark the tenth and eleventh homicides in New Haven this year, according to Elicker.
Reyes said there have been 56 shootings in the city.
New Haven Mayor Responds
Early Wednesday morning, Elicker released a statement about the shootings, saying, "I am heartbroken at the increase of violence in the City in recent days and the loss of members of our community. Across the country, our communities are grappling with a stifling economy, a global pandemic, and an increase in gun violence. Chief Reyes and I have been in nearly hourly communication to determine how to respond."
"Our City faces a confluence of issues that contribute to the violence, and we are working closely with our partners to address these challenges. Our community has already experienced so much loss and pain – I implore those who are involved in the violence to do the right thing and stop contributing to further loss of life," Elicker added.