Thanks 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.”