Jeremy Lewis stopped by New Haven Furniture Plus Monday afternoon to see if the owner needed help. The owner did—but not the kind of help he sometimes pays Lewis to perform.
The owner needed an ambulance. Someone had just shot him in an apparent robbery.
Lewis (pictured), who stops by to do odd jobs for the owner, arrived at the store in a plaza on Whalley Avenue near Sherman around 4:15 p.m. He found the owner—Boubacar Diallo, whom he calls “Bob”—with a “red stain and a hole” in his white pants.
“They shot me,” Diallo told Lewis.
Diallo (pictured in a file photo) made it next door to Lauren’s Nail Salon to ask someone to call 911.
Police arrived within moments and taped off part of the block. Diallo went to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he was being treated for a single gunshot wound to the groin. The injury was considered non-life-threatening, according to police.
Detectives and members of the department’s shootings unit came to the scene, looking for evidence and interviewing people.
Lt. Doug Harkins (pictured speaking with members of Diallo’s family) described what happened based on the initial investigation: A man walked into the store and asked for money. When Diallo refused, the man shot him in the groin and fled. The gunman ran to the parking lot of the KFC across Whalley Avenue and headed toward Carmel Street..
At 4:45 p.m., Harkins was on his way to the hospital to interview Diallo, who is an immigrant from Senegal.
Diallo has overcome adversity before. He originally opened his shop downtown on Chapel Street, part of a block destroyed in a Dec. 12, 2007, fire. His insurance covered only $150,000 of Diallo’s $275,000 losses in that blaze. With the help of the city’s economic development staff and the Whalley Avenue Special Services District, he managed to reopen in the storefront on the ground floor of the Cambridge Apartments at 296 Whalley.
“I’m a believer,” Diallo said at the time. “If something’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. You have to deal with the reality. You don’t have to cry. Something happens, you move on and try to find a solution.”
Diallo first came to New Haven in 1995, briefly, in his role as an official with Senegal’s Special Olympics organization. He was living in D.C. in 2000 when he married a Senegalese woman who’d spent 19 years in New Haven; they decided to settle here. According to a one-page bio Diallo drew up, he “has served in various ministries and cabinets of the Senegalese government… [and] holds Senegal’s track record for the 100, 200, and 400… [He] has a B.A. in Physical Education, a PhD. in Sociology from the Universite Paris VII. Fluent in Wolof (his ethnic language), and French, Boubacar also speaks English and is taking up Italian and Spanish!”
“He’s good people,” Jeremy Lewis said. “he really cares about the community.” Lewis said he does odd jobs for Diallo like helping him assemble furniture.