Cops Make Arrest In 83-Year-Old Prof’s Mugging

Paul Bass PhotoThanks in part from a tip phoned by a neighbor to a beat cop, police Thursday announced the arrest of two teenagers accused of attacking an 83-year-old Yale architectural professor on the site of a home his students were building on Lilac Street in Newhallville.

The two young men, aged 16 and 17, struck the man from behind in the head, then made off with his wallet, police said.

The mugging had double repercussions— not only a trip to the hospital for the professor, but the second time an organization has dropped home-building efforts in the Newhallville neighborhood. Yale canceled its annual project in the neighborhood as a result of the attack on Brouard. (Click here to read about that.) It followed in the footsteps of Habitat for Humanity, which decided six years ago to cancel home-building projects in Newhallville after attacks on one of its homeowners.

Brouard has overseen the design and construction of a home a year by his students in low-income New Haven neighborhoods for the past 24 years. The homes are then sold to low-income buyers. In the wake of the attack, Yale moved the project to the West River neighborhood.

“This arrest was made the old-fashioned way,” Chief Dean Esserman said Thursday afternoon.

“I’ve walked and driven Newhallville every single day since this incident occurred. The community is outraged by what happened. They said, ‘We need to find the young man who did this.’”

One such neighbor phoned a Newhallville beat cop, Robert Hayden, while Hayden was on vacation. The neighbor gave Hayden the names of the suspects.

Hayden was in Hawaii with his wife at the time, celebrating their 28th wedding anniversary. Hayden forwarded the names to the department’s recently-revived robbery and burglary unit, overseen by Sgt. Robert Lawlor Jr. Two detectives from the unit, Manuella Vensel and Jessica Stone, followed up and made the case.

According to Lawlor, Officer Hayden arranged with the family of the 17-year-old suspect to have him surrender at police headquarters on Wednesday. Officer Rob Levy arranged with the family of the 16-year-old suspect to arrest him in Waterbury on Thursday afternoon.

While Hayden was in Hawaii fielding arrest tips, he was also being honored by a banquet at the statewide Exchange Club, as regional officer of the year. Sgt. Sam Brown collected the award in his stead.

“This is really to me about community policing. The community trusted their local officer—so much so that they called him at home,” Esserman said.

Thursday’s arrests are the latest in a recent string of arrests made by Lawlor’s unit.

Early on Thursday, cops and federal marshals tracked down a 32-year-old Franklin Street man, who has prior robbery and sexual assault convictions, and charged him with a May 2 robbery of the Subway at 188 Grand Ave. “They recovered a Colt Official Police 38 Special revolver, ammunition and evidence of the robbery” at his apartment, according to police spokesman Officer David Hartman. The man confessed to five other area robberies in an interview with detectives.

On Tuesday police announced the arrests of two men accused of carrying out two home invasions earlier this month. Click here to read all about that. Esserman Thursday singled out Detective Stone for her original response to one of the home invasions, on Huntington Street.

One of the two women victimized in that home invasion decided to clear her head by walking around the block, recalled Esserman, who said he was on the scene at the time. Detective Stone spent an hour with her. Esserman said it “made me proud that the detective walked with her, to be a listening ear.”

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posted by: Hill Resident on May 30, 2013  10:45pm

Community Policing ... it works! Thank you Newhallville Residents, thanks New Haven Police Department. And thanks New Haven Independent. The NH Register did not give this information that a tip from a resident led to these arrests. This information shows that residents DO want a better, safer neighborhood and WILL do what is necessary to make it happen.

posted by: robn on May 31, 2013  8:59am

I’m really glad to hear that the whole neighborhood hasn’t lost its mind and somebody finally reported these guys.

posted by: Curious on May 31, 2013  9:58am

Win for community policing! 

It’s just a shame that these kids are too young to have their names put in the paper, so everyone in that neighborhood will know who set that whole pull-out in motion.  Hopefully it will get around by word of mouth.

posted by: The Miz on May 31, 2013  10:18am

clap clap bravo

posted by: JustAnotherTaxPayer on June 2, 2013  6:44am

Thank You to the woman who called, thank you to Yale for putting assets back into the neighborhood, and thank you to Officer Robert Hayden.
    Officer Hayden came to the job already with the sense of right and wrong that had immediately shown he is a great person. His sense of right and wrong, justice, honor, pride in being a member of the working class, made him a perfect candidate to serve the public, wherever he was assigned in a selfless and altruist manner.
    Every shift he starts begins with the best of intentions to do the best he can, although he is very aware now the day can go wrong very quickly. This still does not stop him, or dissuade him from giving his very best, even with now knowing, after years of service, grinding it out on the beat, that he could be seriously hurt or killed. Or worse yet, be unfairly placed under attack by the press, or individuals with an agenda, for those times when things can seriously go wrong. That is the nature of his job, and his existence within the NHPD.
    And those that latch on to talking points about “new fangled” police policies or strategies, which are supposed to be the cure for this city’s social and criminal ills, are either using it as an agenda to take credit for an officers deeply personal commitment to making this life better through their own special commitment and service.
    In other words Rob was this type of person long before someone decided to use the phrase “community policing”. He would have been a great cop 50 years ago, or if by chance he did not come to law enforcement, he would have been giving a thousand percent in whatever field he chose.

          Thank You