City leaders in Hartford are asking residents for help in the fight against a recent uptick in gun violence.
“We ask you to share information – not just after the fact, but if there is a dispute, if there’s a beef, if there’s an altercation that you’re concerned might escalate -- we ask you to share that too,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.
Friday marked the city’s 15th homicide of the year – one of six shootings on the week of July 8.
Paul Cicero, a lieutenant with the Hartford Police Department, said that Antoine Keaton, 27, of Hartford, was arrested Monday. Keaton was charged in the murder of 28 year-old Anthony Wright. Police believe that Keaton may also have been involved in Hartford’s 12th homicide of 2019: the shooting death of 30 year-old Malcolm Carr.
Bronin said that Keaton knew Wright, the victim of Friday’s shooting, and that the incident can be attributed to a ‘personal dispute’.
Bronin believes that if residents of the city speak up, they might be able to prevent personal disputes from escalating into gun violence.
”If you’re not comfortable sharing that with our police department -- although I hope you are – share it with any of our partners,” Bronin said.
Cicero pointed to the public as the department’s “eyes and ears.”
Bronin was sworn in days after the close of 2015, a deadly year when Hartford’s 31 homicides were the second most among New England cities. The murder count went down to 14 in his first year in office, but 2016 seems to be more of an anomaly: the homicide rate has been higher every year since.
The city has attempted to curb gun violence by adding more police officers, while also implementing gunshot detection technology called ShotSpotter.
“Where we want to be is no shootings, no gun violence, no homicides and we’re nowhere close,” Bronin said. "The community partnership that has been built and the level of coordination between City Hall, our police department, and our community partners is a critical piece of trying to bring those numbers down.”
Bronin credited members of the community for helping police this past weekend merely with their presence. Groups like the Blue Hills Civic Association participated in a sort of “neighborhood watch” into the night to look after Hartford residents.
Hartford City Councilman TJ Clark on Tuesday echoed Bronin’s call at City Hall for members of the public to take a more proactive role in the fight to end gun violence in that city.
“What you have been experiencing is a top-notch collaboration between public and private interests that are interested in keeping our city streets and our residents safe. But, it goes beyond that,” Clark said. “We need people to continue to step up, to take initiative to say something that can help bring ease and closure to families who are grieving. We can’t do this without you.”
Bronin mentioned that he’s asked the state to provide Hartford with more resources in an effort to combat the recent spate of violence. One ask was for the state’s attorney’s office to lend the city a ‘gun violence prosecutor’ that would embed himself or herself within the community.
Besides the alleged connection between the shooting deaths of Carr and Wright, Hartford Police say they have no real answer for the other shootings that have happened in the city recently.