MERIDEN — Despite a series of shootings this year, police and city officials say they do not expect a summer like 2016, when gang violence led to a public outcry.
Police last week continued to investigate seven shootings since January, including the death of Aaron Ormsby on Jan. 17. Two additional incidents occurred over the weekend, with gunshots being fired through the window of City Tavern, 521 Broad St., at around 11:40 p.m. Friday. Police spokesman Sgt. Christopher Fry said several patrons were inside the establishment when bullets were fired through the front window and into the apartments above.
"The building was struck several times," he said.
Police also responded to a call around 3:35 a.m. Saturday reporting gunshots at 38 Hillside Ave. Fry said police found evidence that gunshots were fired at the address and that it "seemed to have been exclusively targeted." Hillside Avenue is off Springdale Avenue. There were no injuries reported in either incident.
Police are asking anyone with information about either incident to contact detectives at 203-630-6201.
Police and city officials discussed the spate of shootings during interviews last week.
On Feb. 25, one person was shot on North Colony Road and on April 8 two men were shot on Grove Street. On April 19, a man was shot on South First Street and on April 20 police found evidence of gunshots on Springdale Avenue, including damage to a car and a building. There was another shooting Friday night, followed by an incident early Saturday morning.
Police spokesman Sgt. Christopher Fry said the department, like residents, becomes worried anytime there’s a rise in shootings.
“We certainly share in those concerns,” Fry said. “...We understand and we are doing the best we can to provide a safer environment.”
But Fry doesn’t feel the city is about to face a stretch like it did in 2016, when a rash of gang-related shootings culminated with more than 100 residents voicing concerns during a September 2016 public forum.
Fry said police do not see a connection or gang affiliation in the incidents this year. He also expects arrests soon.
Michael Cardona, chairman of the City Council's Public Safety Committee, said statistics show overall crime is down for the first three months of the year, compared with 2018.
There were 32 burglaries reported in the first three months of the year, compared with 46 reported the first three months of last year. There were eight robberies, compared with 16 last year.
Motor vehicle thefts saw the only sizable increase in the first three months, up from 12 last year to 37. The city had one homicide this year, compared with zero in all of 2018.
Cardona said communication between police and the public, while good, could improve when it comes to shootings.
Mayor Kevin Scarpati agreed that he’d like for the public to get more information when shootings occur.
“I have expressed my concerns and frustrations to the chief and we have had many conversations in the last few weeks about these incidents,” Scarpati said.
He also understands that residents feel frustrated when police call shootings “isolated” and provide few details. Scarpati said police are working diligently on the shooting investigations and he also expects arrests. He said police have seized a total of 14 guns since January.
City Manager Tim Coon also said police have been taking a proactive approach to gun violence. “They are not sitting back on their heels,” Coon said, adding he’s been in regular talks with police Chief Jeffry Cossette.
Holly Wills, president of the Meriden Council of Neighborhoods, said she’s concerned but added officers with the department’s Neighborhood Initiative have worked with residents and answered questions. She urged any residents concerned about violence to attend neighborhood association meetings.
“The big thing is communication” Wills said.