Rodney Williams was sitting in his bedroom with his two sons when he heard a rapid pow-pow-pow. His sons ducked for safety as a rain of 32 bullets flew through the air.
One of the bullets hit a 57-year-old woman, an innocent passerby, in the shoulder, according to police.
Williams said Saturday’s shooting—compounded by other recent incidents, including one last weekend in which a man opened fire on police—represents a new height of violence for the neighborhood he grew up in, Newhallville.
Williams, who’s 48, said he has heard a lot of gunshots in the neighborhood, but has never witnessed this quantity of bullets fired in daylight.
“My kids was on the floor,” hiding from the gunfire, he said. “Who want to live like that?”
Williams, a Newhallville ward co-chair in the Democratic Party, made those remarks in a press conference Tuesday alongside Newhallville Alder Brenda Foskey-Cyrus. Standing on Dixwell Avenue across the street from Presidential Gardens, where someone fired bullets at detectives who had joined a raid on an apartment at 3 a.m. Sunday, Williams and Foskey-Cyrus called on the city and state to send in more cops to prevent further violence.
Police spokesman Dave Hartman said cops are working hard to solve the crimes. Police Tuesday arrested the man they say fired at the cops. And detectives are undertaking a “very active” investigation into the shooting that injured the innocent woman, Hartman said.
Standing just two blocks away from the scene of Saturday’s shooting, Williams recounted what he called a brazen act of violence that happened before the sun had even set.
He said he was sitting in his bedroom on Dixwell Avenue with his girlfriend and two sons, ages 12 and 14, Saturday night. The bedroom window opens to the street. Shortly before 8 p.m., they heard a “pow, pow, pow.”
“We’re used to hearing guns,” Williams said. But usually just a few shots at a time. This time was different. “All of a sudden it picked up rapidly.”
Williams’ sons knew the drill: they dove to the floor. “I told them that years ago,” Williams said. He didn’t have to tell them again.
The gunfire sounded “was so close to my house,” Williams recalled. “I didn’t feel it was safe. Just the sound and the amount.” His instinct was, “I’m going to protect my family.”
So he went to his gun safe and started “spinning the numbers.” He got out his 40-caliber Beretta gun, which he has a permit to carry. He called 911 and reported the shooting. Then he peered out the front door.
“I stood on the porch, tried to figure out what was going on.” He thought he might see someone fleeing the scene. But, to his surprise, he saw nothing.
“Traffic was flowing like it was normal, like nothing had happened.”
The shooting took place on Dixwell near West Division Street, just six houses down from Williams’ house. He didn’t use his gun. From the porch, he watched as the cops showed up.
Police found 32 shell casings at the scene, according to Hartman.
One of the bullets entered the car of a 57-year-old woman who was driving on Dixwell Avenue. It hit her in the shoulder. The woman did not appear to be the intended target, according to Hartman.
“This seems to be an absolutely innocent woman caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Foskey-Cyrus (at left in photo with contractor Joy Monsanto) said she’s concerned for her neighbors’ safety. “It could’ve been a kid that got shot,” she said.
Williams said people are afraid to go outdoors for fear of getting shot: “We feel like hostages in our own neighborhood.”
He urged the police department to send more cops to the neighborhood. And he called on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to send state troopers to patrol the streets and prevent further violence. Gunfire is only going to get worse when kids get out of school for the summer, and the weather gets hot, he predicted.
Hartman declined to comment on the level of police deployed to the neighborhood.
“This department hasn’t rested in its pursuit of justice,” said Chief Dean M. Esserman in a press statement Tuesday. “There are a few who are responsible for several recent shootings and incidents of gunfire.” Tuesday’s arrest of the man who allegedly shot at the cops on Sunday “is not the first in the past two weeks tied to this violence. Five guns have been recovered in a week tied to these investigations. The announcements of other arrests are expected.”