Mur­der of Tyriek Keyes and shoot­ings of young men are calls to ac­tion

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - OPINION - By David R. Cameron David R. Cameron is a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Yale.

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.

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