New Haven Church urges teens to lay down their arms


NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) – As New Haven sees a recent increase in gun violence involving teens, a local church is sending a message of hope and, more importantly, to lay down their arms.

Last week a teenager was gunned down right in front of a school.

This is the second shooting at the exact location in a few months.

It comes as a church a few blocks away is hosting an event this weekend, targeting New Haven teens, not just food and fun, but also gun and gang awareness. .

Lately, it’s an all too common scene.

Shootouts in which those who pull the trigger and the intended targets are just teenagers.

“The real need for this is to really give hope to some of our young people and families who are dealing with gun violence in our communities,” said Pastor Harold Brooks of Beulah Heights First Pentecostal Church.

This weekend, Beulah Heights First Pentecostal Church in New Haven is hosting what it calls a Save Our Sons Festival.

“As we know there are shootings, so many shootings going on, kids are getting ready to leave school and they don’t know what to do,” said Blanche Reeves-Tucker, executive director.

On Saturday evening, a 17-year-old was shot dead on Starr Street in the Newhallville district.

Just last week, a 16-year-old was shot dead outside the Saint Martin townhouses on Rue Goffe.

This followed another shooting at the same location in April in which police said 23 shots were fired during the firing from a nearby school.

Natquan Swan, 19, now faces a number of charges in the shooting.

“We’ve seen a slight increase in youth crime, shootings by minors,” New Haven Deputy Police Chief Karl Jacobson said.

Jacobson said the city is dealing with a teenage dispute that began earlier this spring.

“It looks like there are a lot of stolen cars involved, we see they have ghost guns, which seem to be easily accessible,” Jacobson said.

According to Swan’s arrest warrant, police nabbed him and two 17-year-olds, recovering three firearms, including a drum magazine with a capacity of 50 rounds.

While being held at the New Haven Correctional Center, police say he made a phone call that was recorded.

“’You shooting near a school now? What are you doing ? Swan replied, ‘Uhhh you know, I was going through that.'”

“Passing by” is common street slang for feeling sad or depressed.

Police said it was likely because a member of a gang that Swan was associated with had been killed the day before.

“‘I know why, but damn you gotta be smart anyway.’ Swan replied, “No, you’re right, I let my anger get the better of me.”

“Sometimes when people take up arms they really don’t understand the impact, but behind every action there is always a consequence, so hopefully with this discussion on Saturday and throughout this weekend end, young men and people in general see the importance of thinking before they end up in violence,” Brooks said.

Swan is being held on multiple bonds, totaling more than $600,000.

He is back in court later this month.

The New Haven teen-focused festival will take place this Friday and Saturday at the Orchard Street Church.


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