Murder of Tyriek Keyes and shootings of young men are calls to action
After the murder of 14-yearold Tyriek Keyes, the shooting of a 13-year-old less than a week later, and the shooting of another young man on Sunday, New Haven is once again asking how the scourge of gun violence in the city can be stopped.
Tyriek, who had just completed eighth-grade, was shot multiple times by a gunman on Bassett Street near Newhall Street around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 16. Taken by emergency responders to Yale-New Haven Hospital in critical condition, he died of his wounds four days later. His death was the fifth homicide in the city this year, the fourth by gun.
New Haven Police Assistant Chief Achilles Generoso said Tyriek, a member of the “Ice the Beef” anti-gun violence group, appears to have been the specific target of the gunman. Because he was shot on a poorly-lit street in the evening by a masked gunman and there were no surveillance cameras nearby, the police have little information to work with and the killer remains at large.
Around 3 p.m. last Saturday, the 13-year-old boy was shot in the vicinity of Shelton Avenue and Ivy Street. He is reported to be in stable condition. The next day, a 21-year-old man was shot in the face in an exchange of gunfire on Walnut Street between Wallace and East streets. He too is reported to be in stable condition. On Tuesday, another 21-year-old man was arrested for shooting the 13-year-old.
The murder of 14-year-old Tyriek recalls for many the horrible summer of 2006 when two young teens were killed. In June of that year, Jajuana Cole, 13, was killed at a neighborhood gathering on Dickerman Street by a young man who, with other members of the ‘Ville, a notorious gang based in the Newhallville area, had come to the gathering with the intention of shooting members of another gang. One month later, Justus Suggs, also 13, was murdered as he rode home on a bike from a carnival at Hill Regional Career High School.
In recent years, through a combination of a renewed commitment to community policing, cooperation with federal and state agencies to stop the flow of guns into and within the city, a shooting task force, periodic gun buybacks, the use of hot-spot intelligence to anticipate potential sites of violence, and Project Longevity, New Haven has made progress in reducing gun violence. Whereas the city had 19 homicides in 2011, it has had between 13 and 15 in each of the last three years and has had five thus far this year. By comparison, Hartford, a smaller city, has had 16 homicides thus far this year.
But even one homicide a year is one too many and, despite the progress, the murder of Tyriek Keyes and the shootings of other young men make it clear that, notwithstanding the substantial progress that has been made in the last several years, more must be done.
How can the scourge of gun violence be stopped? There are no easy answers. But there is something those who live or work in New Haven can do: They can commit themselves to working with others in the community to stop gun violence by supporting the city’s Youth Stat initiatives, the counseling efforts of the recently formed Joshua Generation Organization of Newhallville-based clergy, and the continuing efforts of the New Haven police. As Stacy Spell, the project manager for Project Longevity, said, “We need more people involved. We need partners out on the street.”
The police can’t do it alone and neither can the community. But working together, perhaps they can.