Eyewitness News has exclusive video of a car being towed in connection to one of the three Hartford homicides this week.
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -
Extra detectives have been called in so Hartford police can investigate four shootings that left five people shot, three fatally, just in the past three days.
Since Monday, shootings were reported on Linnmoore Street, Chapin Place, Harrison Place and Evergreen Avenue.
The shootings began on Sunday when residents in Linnmoore Street reported hearing gunshots, and a man's body was found in the yard of a home the next morning.
On Tuesday a man was shot in the face on Chapin Place and is expected to survive. Then on Wednesday a man was found shot and killed in a car on Harrison Place just hours before two men were shot, one fatally, on Evergreen Avenue.
"I can't believe it's him," said Katrina Gilbert of Hartford. "This gun stuff has to stop!"
Hartford police said, at this point, it is too early to say if these cases are connected. The names of those involved, both victims and potential suspects, are familiar from other investigations.
"These are our target groups. And these are the most difficult to prevent," said police Chief James Rovella. "These are our groups that are 16 to 24 years old. They're predominantly males. They're both our victims and our shooters."
In at least two of the cases, the shootings on Linnmoore Street and Evergreen Avenue, it appears as though the victims were the target of the shooters.
"You look overall, last 10 years we've been averaging about 25 murders a year in the city of Hartford, and we've been talking about this for a long time," said state Rep. Doug McCrory for 7th Assembly District. "We haven't done a lot to change this situation though."
On Thursday, Mayor Pedro Segarra and Rovella released a statement where they called the shootings "tragic for the families and for our entire community."
"One shooting is one too many. The Hartford Police Department will immediately deploy additional officers in our neighborhoods and that presence will continue for the foreseeable future," the statement said. "The safety of our residents is our number one priority. We are working with our community partners and will use every single resource necessary to keep our neighborhoods safe."
During an interview with Eyewitness News, Rovella did not want to share specific numbers with the station.
Gov. Dannel Malloy recounted his days as mayor of Stamford, and how he dealt with a spate of violence in his city's downtown area.
"When I was mayor of Stamford, we would throw all our resources at the center of town when bars were closing just so that people knew that our police and our fire and other professionals were there," Malloy said.
Segarra talked to Eyewitness News following its exclusive interview with Rovella.
"I have given the police chief whatever resources they need," Segarra said.
The Hartford Police Departments' budget actually went up to $38.5 million this year, which is an increase of 5 percent. Rovella said the increase was gobbled up by raises guaranteed in officer contracts, plus, he added the department's overtime budget went down by a $500,000.
"We're gonna do everything we can to work with what we have," Rovella said.
The manpower in Hartford's Shooting Task Force has also been reduced. Just a year ago, the team that included officers and staff from the state and surrounding towns was credited with helping bring a dramatic drop in violent crime to the Capital City.
"We've had some reduced commitments from some of our partners for various reasons," Rovella said. "I would like to staff it even more than the Shooting Task Force with our own officers, but our main priority is calls for service. People pick up that phone and want a 911 response."
On Thursday, police identified the victim in the Harrison Place shooting as 26-year-old Steven Riley and the victim of the fatal shooting on Evergreen Avenue Wednesday night as 22-year-old Jerome Copeland.
A bouquet of roses, candles, posters and prayers were placed at a makeshift memorial for those shot on Evergreen Avenue.
"He was a good person. He looked out for everyone," said Copeland's friend Autumn Anderson. "He didn't deserve this."
Copeland, who was a father of a 6-year-old son, is Hartford's 16th homicide.
No arrests have been made in any of the shootings as of Thursday night.
Eyewitness News obtained exclusive video of a 2003 black Chevy Impala being towed by Hartford police from a home on South Street. The vehicle belongs to Valentine Santos, who was shot and killed on Linnmore Street.
Andrew Woods runs Hartford Communities that Care, which is an organization that works with Hartford's youth on violence prevention and children and families traumatized by gun violence. Woods was with Copeland's family early Thursday morning.
"The kids really need out of here," Woods said. "Give them a kind of hope, so they can last another day out here, believing something can change. Things aren't well."
Rovella said the shooting task force is really a short-term solution to reducing violent crime in Hartford. There are a number of long-term initiatives, including ones that work with parolees, at-risk children, and faith-based organizations.
Anyone with information is urged to call Hartford police at 860-757-4000 or the tip line at 860-722-TIPS (8477). All calls will be kept confidential.
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Sunday, August 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-31 19:28:29 GMT
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