NEW HAVEN - Recently, the New Haven Police Department say they have responded to several reported shootings, gunfire incidents and gun possession calls where paint-ball guns, facsimile firearms and BB-guns were used.
They have issued a warning emphasizing that these are dangerous situations with potentially tragic outcomes when responding police officers can’t quickly determine if the gun displayed is real or not.
The concern was raised after police said they noticed a rise in gun complaints where the perpetrators were found to have used paintball, facsimile and BB guns. In all of the studied cases, the 911 callers and reporting people feared the guns were real, according to police.
Police said most of the calls involved groups from several New Haven neighborhoods embroiled in turf or gang conflicts.
“These groups are targeting rivals in neighborhoods such as the Hill and Newhallville”, said Intel Division supervisor Karl Jacobson in a statement. “This has got to stop before someone is seriously hurt or worse”, he said.
Police said they are concerned about retaliation. Police said they have heard that targeted groups have made and carried out threats to retaliate with real weapons. Police are on the lookout for those involved to charge them for the lesser offenses before real guns are used.
Another concern for police are “armed robberies” and property-crimes. Police ssaid they don't want to respond to any shooting, but "the tragic shooting of a young man, armed with a fake gun, by someone defending themselves against a misconceived threat of deadly force is a particularly disturbing thought."
“We’re trying to avert a tragedy," said Assistant Chief Achilles “Archie” Generoso in a statement. “The effort to stop this is a top priority for our department”, he said.
Police said there have been about a dozen such calls to them this week. Several have resulted in significant injuries to the victims. On Thursday night, a 10-year-old girl was shot in the head in Newhallville by a BB-gun and early Friday morning, another BB shooting happened in Fair Haven, according to police.
Police said other incidents have prompted them to engage in dangerous pursuits and in one incident, a dramatic situation where officers used great restraint when aiming their weapons at an “armed teenager”, despite an angry crowd that encircled the officer’s patrol car once it was learned the gun wasn’t real.
Police are asking for the public's help saying that if you are a parent, pay close attention to your teenager’s activity – particularly if you know they are involved in such rivalries. They ask that you call them at 203-946-6316 or 911 or 203-0946-6304.