Five people were shot while Hamden Police were clearing a 500-person house party on Friday night and the suspect is still at large.
Police said they were called to the massive party spilling onto Choate Avenue around 8:45pm.
Hamden Police Captain Ronald Smith said homeowners and guests began cooperatively dispersing and “While we had 3 or 4 officers on scene, someone began to shoot into the crowd. As far as we know right now, we have at least 5 victims.”
Police said four victims were taken to the hospital by ambulance. Another was driven to a hospital by a friend.
According to police, the victims were all in their teens or early 20s. An 18-year-old New Haven woman was shot in the side, a 19-year-old Bridgeport woman was shot in her buttocks, a 20-year-old New Haven man was shot in the arm, a 21-year-old Hamden woman was shot in the foot and a 23-year-old New Haven man was shot in his thigh. The status of their injuries is unknown.
“Officers were not fired upon. Like I said, the crowd was very cooperative. I don’t think this had anything to do with the police presence here,” said Capt. Smith. “The community should not be concerned. This was a house party that’s more than likely related to something at this specific party.”
"We were getting reports that there were drunk people on individuals' lawns, things of that sort, so we were here to disperse that and that's when the chaos began," Capt. Smith added.
Neighbors said the annual summer bash has never been much of an issue. While the crowd was usually large each year, they said this was the biggest so far.
“Yeah and it’s very mellow. It’s fine. They disperse at 9 or 10 o’clock when the ordinance is and it’s absolutely fine. It really is,” said neighbor Janice Murphy-Wallace reflecting on past parties her neighbor has thrown.
“My son and I were looking out the window and we were like, ‘oh fireworks’ and my son said, ‘no that was shots’ and it was about 4-5 gun shots and then we just saw swarms of people running up Choate.”
The shooting happened four miles from Hamden’s annual fireworks. “Total chaos. This was obviously a major incident with 5 gunshot victims. Also, tonight was our fireworks, so we had multiple officers working the fireworks detail, the traffic control, and security detail there, so absolute chaos," police said.
Officers said they’re thankful for Connecticut State Police, North Haven and Cheshire Police Departments for helping them respond.
The area of Choate Avenue and Exeter Roads were closed while police investigated and searched for a suspect, but they have since reopened.
The suspect is described by police as a man in his early 20s with a thin build, some hair on his chin and facial scarring.
They ask anyone with information or video of the incident to reach out to them.