Church in New Haven urges teens to put down the guns

Church in New Haven calls to end gun violence
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 5:23 PM EDT
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NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - As New Haven sees a recent uptick in gun violence involving teenagers, a local church is sending a message of hope and more importantly to put down the guns.

Last week a teen was shot right across from a school.

It is the second shooting in the exact spot in a matter of months.

It comes as a church just a few blocks away is putting on an event this weekend, targeting New Haven teens, not just food and fun, but also outreach when it comes to guns and gangs.

Lately it’s been an all-too-common scene.

Shootings in which those pulling the trigger and the intended targets are just teens.

“The actual need for this is to really give hope to some of our young people and to families that are dealing with gun violence in our communities,” said Pastor Harold Brooks of the Beulah Heights First Pentecostal Church.

This weekend, New Haven’s Beulah Heights First Pentecostal Church is putting on what it is calling a Save Our Sons Festival.

“As we know there are shootings, so many shootings going on, young people are getting ready to get out of school and they don’t know what to do,” said Blanche Reeves-Tucker, Executive Director.

Saturday night, a 17-year-old was shot on Starr Street in the Newhallville neighborhood.

Just last week, a 16-year-old was shot outside the Saint Martin’s townhouses on Goffe Street.

That followed another shooting in the same spot back in April in which police said 23 shots were fired during a nearby school’s dismissal.

Natquan Swan, 19, is now facing a number of charges in that shooting.

“We’ve seen an uptick in juvenile crime, juvenile shots fired,” said New Haven Assistant Police Chief Karl Jacobson.

Jacobson detailed that the city is dealing with an ongoing beef between teens that started earlier this spring.

“It seems to be there are a lot of stolen cars involved, we’re finding them to have ghost guns, which seem to be easily accessible,” said Jacobson.

According to Swan’s arrest warrant, police nabbed him and two 17-year-olds, recovering three guns, including a 50-round capacity drum magazine.

While being held at the New Haven Correctional Center, police said he made a phone call which was recorded.

“‘You shooting near a school now? What you got going on?’ Swan responded, ‘Uhhh you know, I was going through it.’”

“Going through it”, is common street slang for feeling sad or depressed.

Police said that’s likely because a gang member whom Swan associated with was killed the day before with investigators saying Facebook posts mocking the death were made by those living at the Goffe Street complex that was shot up.

“‘I know why, but damn you got to be smart though.’ Swan responded, ‘Nah you right, I let my anger get the best of me.’”

“Sometimes when people pick up guns, they really don’t understand the impact, but behind every action there is always a consequence, so I’m hoping with this discussion on Saturday and throughout this weekend, that young men and people in general will see the importance of thinking before resulting to violence,” said Brooks.

Swan is being held on multiple bonds, totaling more than $600,000.

He is back in court later this month.

The festival focusing on New Haven teens will take place this Friday and Saturday at the church on Orchard Street.