A 7-year-old boy who was shot in the head after a city parade on Saturday remained in critical condition Sunday night. Police said the shooting may have been gang-related.
Tyreke Marquis of Hartford was one of seven people injured in the shooting — one fatally. Ezekiel Roberts, 21, of Hartford, died in the shooting. Roberts is a distant relative of Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts.
The youngest of the seven victims was a 17-month-old girl who, a witness said, was sitting in her stroller when she was shot. Zinia Jackson was shot in the lower left leg, Sgt. Edward Yergeau said.
"This is absurd, going into a crowd of people like that and shooting," Yergeau said Sunday night.
The other victims of the shootings after the parade were Tafari Jackson, 15, of Bloomfield, who was shot in the ankle; John Gibson, 16, of Windsor, shot in the left buttock; Quarnell Smith, 16, of Hartford, who was shot in the right calf; and Angelique Green, 17, of Hartford, shot in the leg.
Three people were arrested on gun charges before and after the shooting, but police said they are not believed to have been involved. The shooting happened about 6:30 p.m. near the intersection of Main Street and Cleveland Avenue in the North End after the annual West Indian pride parade. The parade ended at 4 p.m.
It was an especially violent weekend in Hartford, with 11 people shot in three attacks. This brings the total number of shooting victims since Jan. 1 to above 100.
Early Saturday, two men, one 19 and one 21, were wounded in a drive-by shooting outside 84 Cleveland Ave., Lt. Ronald Bair said. Their injuries were not life-threatening, he said.
About 12:05 p.m. Sunday, two teenage males were shot multiple times outside 265 Barbour St., he said. One was shot in the left shoulder and right leg, and the other was shot in the arm and chest. Police did not identify them and did not know how badly they were injured.
Police do not believe the shooting Sunday is connected to the one after the parade Saturday.
Mayor Eddie Perez pledged Sunday night to take a stronger stand against crime. He said the police chief has already been working to establish a "shooting team" that pairs police with people from the state's attorney's office to focus more attention on shootings. He said he plans to concentrate more effort on finding Hartford's most wanted criminals and will continue working with New Haven and Bridgeport to secure more state aid to fight and prevent crime.
The shock from Saturday evening's shooting reverberated through the West Indian community on Sunday, with parade organizers and city officials renouncing the violence.
"To think people would use the occasion to carry out such a senseless, senseless crime is shocking," city council member Veronica Airey-Wilson said. "I didn't sleep a wink last night, thinking it was a dream and I was just going to wake up."
According to court records, Ezekiel Roberts was found guilty on March 3 of accessory to first-degree assault in the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Hiram David Colon in East Hartford in 2006. Roberts was one of six who played a role in the stabbing, but police could not determine who delivered the fatal wound.
Interviewed on Sunday, Errol Hosein of Bloomfield said he was yards away from Saturday's shooting on Main Street. He said that about two dozen people gathered around a mother and her toddler, who had been shot in the leg.
"The child had a wound in the leg. You could see where something had pierced the flesh," Hosein said. "The stroller was damaged. It appeared the bullet went through a portion of the stroller.
"As a parent, it was frightening," he said. "Here's a child that could have been killed, too. The thing about it is, you feel helpless."
State Rep. Marie Kirkley-Bey said she was shocked at the number of innocent victims who were just out to enjoy a parade on a summer afternoon.
"I believe everyone in the city feels this type of violence, and it has to stop," she said.
"There's a fear factor throughout the city, and no neighborhood is left unscathed. I'm a firm believer that this is due to the influx of guns into Hartford. The kids know where to get them," Kirkley-Bey said.
"It seems the youth involved in these incidents are getting younger and younger. … It just looks like they were shooting randomly all over the place. Who was the target?
"If it was a beef, why hurt so many innocent people? I don't understand it."