Recent gun violence prompts New Haven leaders to reassure residents

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NEW HAVEN --  A series of shootings over the last couple of weeks has New Haven on edge. On Wednesday, city officials tried to calm residents fears.

With three shootings in eight days, including two teen victims, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and police held a press conference, in part, to ask for an even stronger partnership with the community.

"We can only be your tools," she said. "You have to want to be safe and to work with us," said Harp.

Since 2011, the number of homicides in New Haven is down 74 percent. Non-fatal shooting victims has been reduced 55.4 percent. And, the number of shots fired has been slashed by 70 percent. Still, angry residents listening in to Wednesday's media briefing, on Dixwell Avenue, were not interested in those numbers.

"We know what New Haven has to offer," yelled out Odell Cooper, whose 24-year-old son, Jonathan Cooper, was shot to death last year while eating cake and ice cream at a family function. "We know that you're good. We know that you care about our community. But, our children are still dying in the streets."

On July 16, 14-year-old Tyrick Keyes was shot three times and succumbed to his injuries four days later.

Two days after his death, a 13-year-old boy was shot on a basketball court and sustained non-life threatening injuries. The suspect, Charles Worthington, 21, of New haven, appeared before New Haven Superior Court Judge Walter Spader, who kept Worthington's bail at $1 million.

The New Haven Police Department says daily intelligence meetings, incorporating city agencies and even the FBI, are helping reduce these heart wrenching gun crimes against the youth.

"We have prevented number of shootings and homicides through our collaborations, through our initiative of reaching out to the youth that we see at risk," said New Haven Assistant Police Chief Achilles Generoso.

One of the city's biggest challenges to address, according to former Hillhouse High School principal, Kermit Carolina, is addressing the 18 to 24-year-old demographic.

"We know that they're leaving high school," he said. "We know that there's a challenge for them making a transition from high school into the real world. We as a community have to come up with a solution working with the mayor."

Hearing all of the anxious energy, Harp made a promise.

"What we will do is we will pull together a meeting for people who have ideas beyond what you've heard today," she said.