Recent shootings spike fear in Hamden

A shooting incident in a Hamden parking lot has residents worrying once again about crime in their town.

A shooting incident on March 17 outside the Off The Hook Restaurant shortly after closing left two bullet holes in the passenger side of a parked car and one shell casing on the ground.

Though no one was injured in the incident, it nevertheless left some residents worried.

Guiseppe Pellino Jr., a Hamden resident and employee at the Wood-n-Tap restaurant, said he was upset to hear about the shooting on Dixwell Avenue.

“It’s scary to hear that, especially when it is so close to home,” he said. “That’s literally around the corner from me.”

This is one of several crimes involving firearms that happened in Hamden recently. Last month, in a two-week span, there were two armed robberies and a woman was shot in her home

Pellino said he loves Hamden and is worried about the increase in crime.

“Growing up, this was a great town, and it still is... I don’t know what really has changed over the years,” he said. “I worry because I love being in Hamden and I don't remember this being an issue before.”

The recent shooting in the Off The Hook parking lot is not the first shooting there. In September, a man shot another man in his ankle and a woman in her thigh.

Michael Cheng, the manager at Green Laundry, which is two stores over from Off The Hook, says he thinks the police should have a larger presence in this part of Hamden.

“I don’t think this neighborhood is that safe compared to others, especially at night,” he said. “I think there should be more police patrols in front of this parking lot because of the restaurant [Off The Hook].”

Cheng has managed Green Laundry for three years and says he feels crime has risen since Off the Hook moved into the neighborhood in 2017.

“Before they moved here, there was a crime or incident maybe every few months,” he said. “When they came, it was more and I heard about a lot of fights.”

Operators of Off The Hook could not be reached for comment.

Cheng said he believes that dangerous events like these have a negative effect on his business and customers.

Despite the feeling of people like Cheng, patrol officer Angela Vey said she thinks crime fears are overblown.

“I really do think people feel safe,” she said. “Especially when they see officers in the community and interacting with people.”

Vey said she was unable to comment on the March 17 shooting because the investigation is ongoing.

“We do a lot to ensure safety,” Vey said. “We have a lot of proactive patrols, officers are out stopping cars or suspicious people, we have bicycle and motorcycle patrols and in the summer we have walking beat patrols on certain days.”

Yet, despite Vey’s assertion of Hamden’s general safety, a website that ranks safety of cities and towns, ranks it in the bottom third of towns and cities in the U.S. when it comes to safety.

Unlike Cheng, Pellino says he has noticed stepped-up police patrols.

“Now, you definitely notice more of a presence,” Pellino said. “Hamden is pretty safe. I feel safe and it makes me feel good knowing there is always patrols on the street and in the neighborhoods, Honestly, they do a great job in the town.”