MERIDEN — Police believe a recent uptick in gun violence is being caused by a “small group of individuals.”
“We do believe that a lot of them are connected — same individuals, same weapon,” Detective Lt. Steve Burnstein told the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Wednesday night.
Burnstein based the assessment on information from confidential informants and concerned citizens.
“We’re also seeing when we respond...that the same people are there, the same names are coming up. Even if they’re not there, the group of people that we’re stopping, those names are getting thrown out there,” Burnstein said.
Burnstein gave a presentation on the increase at the request of elected officials. He appeared with Capt. Nicholas Sherwood because Police Chief Jeffry Cossette was out of state.
The number of confirmed “gunshots fired” incidents have more than doubled this year, according to numbers provided by Burnstein.
Police recorded 19 confirmed incidents between Jan. 1 and Oct. 1 this year, an increase from seven from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1 last year. Burnstein said these incidents were confirmed by shell casings. These numbers don’t include unconfirmed gunshots fired calls.
The presentation also included a slide detailing some of the “trends” affecting the rise in shootings. Burnstein pointed out some of the individuals arrested in connection with a string of shootings in 2016 have been released from prison.
“A lot of the names that are coming up now are the same names that came up then,” Burnstein said.
In response to a question from committee chairman Michael Cardona, Burnstein said he believes the shootings will likely decrease once these suspects are arrested.
Despite the rise in shootings, Sherwood told councilors that “part one” crimes went down overall in the third quarter of 2019 compared to the third quarter of last year. Part one crimes include aggravated assault, burglary, homicide, larceny, motor vehicle theft, robbery, rape, and simple assault.
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