A rise in the number of shootings in Hartford over the past few weeks is concerning residents and police. It's not uncommon for violence to spike during summers in the city but it's not something that goes unnoticed.
Dyzhae Richardson was standing outside on Sisson Avenue talking to a friend when he heard gunshots. He tried to duck but it was too late—he'd been shot. He looked down and saw blood on his hands. It was the morning of June 30th.
"I got hit in different organs and different parts of my body," Richardson said. "It felt like I had ten cars on top of my stomach and as far as my leg, my leg was burning because the bullet hit my spine."
The 23-year-old screamed out for help from his friend, who'd ducked for cover. He put Richardson in the back seat of his car and drove him to Hartford Hospital. Richardson, who's known as rapper Ziggy da Great, spent his birthday in hospital. He said waking up in the ICU was undescribable.
"Everybody came and showed love," Richardson said. "I saw the whole city praying for me. You never know how much you mean to your city until something like that happens."Richardson spent about a week in the hospital. Since then, he's been getting around with a walker.
During the week of July 8th, there have been at least six shootings. Malcolm Carr, Caritaye Davis and Jorge Alicea were all fatally shot within three days. Alicea was Hartford's 14th homicide victim this year. Another man was fatally shot on Friday night at the intersection of Main Street and Mahl Avenue, making it the city's 15th homicide.
"The recent outburst of gun violence in the city has prompted us as a police department to increase visibility in the neighborhoods and to alleviate any concerns for the residents," said Lt. Paul Cicero. "We think it's unacceptable as well as the residents."
Preparation for the department's summer strategy begins in the spring. Officers work to target hot spots, assess areas that experienced violence during the winter, and work with the Department of Corrections to see who may be re-entering the community that had a history of violent crime.
Hartford police also work with community organizations Mothers United Against Violence and Peacebuilders to work together to address the violence in the city.
Cicero says there's no way to quantify preventing homicides besides comparing numbers from previous years. He says Shot Spotter—the technology that helps officers to identify where a shooting takes place—has definitely helped the department to get to shootings quicker and save lives.
Over 70 percent of shots fired and recorded on the technology are not called into police. At this time last year, there were 81 reported non-fatal shootings compared to 63 this year.