Police have identified the 15-year-old Hamden High School student that was killed during a shooting in a popular Hamden park Monday afternoon.
Officers responded to the Farmington Canal Linear Park near Treadwell Street around 2:30 p.m. for a report of shots fired and found the teenager suffering from injuries on the canal line, according to police.
Elijah Gomez was pronounced dead at the scene, according to authorities.
"This is a devastating loss to Hamden and our schools. Tragedies of this magnitude shake us to the core as individuals and as a community. The loss of a life of a child is impossible to make sense of under any circumstances but the violent nature of this incident leaves us feeling vulnerable, powerless, and grasping for answers," said Mayor Lauren Garrett.
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Authorities are looking for whoever is responsible for the killing. Police said they received reports of three people fleeing from the scene.
"I am fully committed to the safety of every member of our Hamden community. I am in close communication with our Police Department as they continue to investigate. I have their full assurance they will not stop until the parties responsible are apprehended, and they will receive the full support of my office. The Police Department is also bolstering patrols to increase security along the canal line," Garrett said.
The mayor noted that the city held an emergency meeting with the High Risk Youth Community Taskforce to discuss strategies that can help prevent tragedy in the future.
The Hamden school district said the teen who died was a high school student, and officials described the incident as a "senseless tragedy."
School officials said their District Crisis Team has been activated to provide support and counseling to anyone who needs it.
Parents are being advised to look for changes in behavior among their kids and if needed, contact your child's counselor or school administrator. School officials are also advising parents to talk with their children about what happened.
"Talking with a parent/guardian/or a trusted adult is very helpful for children, as they try to cope with and work through tragedies in their lives," the school district said.
People in the area are shocked that the shooting happened in a typically quiet neighborhood.
“It’s definitely something that doesn’t happen on this street. It’s normally quiet and just kind of shocked by it at this point," said Tito Rivera of Hamden. “It’s predominately people who are walking, family kind of trail, jogging, bicyclists, skateboarding."
Among those concerned about the apparent homicide was the executive director of the Connecticut Violence Intervention Program, Leonard Jahad.
“We’re dealing with more guns that are in the community. So a lot of people solve their issues with guns rather than talking them out," Jahad said.
He said the effect of violence goes far beyond those involved and extends to their families, friends and the entire community.
“It’s alarming because you try to uproot from other neighborhoods to have a better environment. But as we can see now, right, crime is just going to happen where it happens. But it’s definitely alarming to be in this area," Rivera said.
The Hamden Police Major Crimes Unit and Crime Scene Unit are investigating the homicide.
Anyone with information is asked to call Hamden police at (203) 230-4000. Callers can remain anonymous.