STAMFORD – A police report belies the calm that settled on the streets of Connecticut’s second-largest city this winter.
Shots fired, March 5 – .40 caliber and .45 caliber shell casings found on Vassar Avenue.
Shots fired, March 8 – unknown person in a blue vehicle shoots at 19-year-old male walking on Myano Lane.
Shots fired, March 10 – unknown person in a dark sedan shoots at a group of teenagers on Custer Street. Two bullet holes found in the home at 4 Custer St.
Shots fired, March 14 – .40 caliber shell casings found on Connecticut Avenue; incident may involve a green sedan.
Shots fired, March 14 – two vehicles involved in a 3 p.m. shooting at Richmond Hill Avenue and Ann Street. A man working on his car is struck in the shoulder. Bullets hit a house. Police recover 9 mm shell casings; cite “an ongoing beef” between two neighborhood groups.
Shots fired, March 14 – bullets aimed at a vehicle on Rose Park Avenue about 8 p.m. strike a man in the face. He is admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Stamford Hospital. Police recover 9 mm shell casings. Shooting is believed to be related to the one five hours earlier. Victim is expected to survive.
Shots fired, March 14 – about 11 p.m. an eyewitness reports three cars speeding down Bedford Street, and the passengers arguing when they stop at the traffic light at Sixth Street. Someone fires three shots from what appears to be a black Jeep Cherokee. Three shell casings recovered. No injuries reported.
The seven incidents in nine days in March are notable for breaking the peace, Capt. Richard Conklin said.
“We’ve enjoyed three months where it’s been tremendously quiet for a city of our size, population and demographic,” Conklin said. “In some of these incidents shots were fired in the air by someone leaning out a car door. But Monday’s incidents are very concerning. Two people were struck.”
The 72-year-old man shot in the shoulder was an innocent bystander, Conklin said. He is recovering.
The 26-year-old man who took a bullet in the face is just plain lucky, Conklin said.
“The bullet went through and through. The trajectory didn’t do as much damage as it could have. He’s in stable condition,” Conklin said.
Five of the shootings occurred on the West Side. Suspects have been identified, according to the police report. The sixth incident happened on the East Side.
“There are different working parts here. I can’t get into detail,” Conklin said.
The apparent road rage incident may be more random.
“We don’t feel at this point that it’s connected to the other incidents,” Conklin said.
Such incidents are disconcerting, but Stamford remains one of the safest cities in the area, Conklin said.
The online data analysis site Best Places, which provides crime rates based on FBI statistics, shows Stamford far below other cities in the region.
The violent crime rate in Stamford for 2022 is 16, compared with 22.7 nationally, according to Best Places. Violent crimes include murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
Rates are much higher in Connecticut’s other major cities. In Hartford it’s 55.5. In New Haven, 51. In the state’s largest city, Bridgeport, it’s 42.6.
Stamford is considered a suburb of New York City, where the violent crime rate is lower than all those Connecticut cities except Stamford. New York’s rate is 28.2, according to Best Places.
Conklin said there are a few reasons why Stamford’s numbers are good.
“We have poverty here, but the level of it is more apparent in our sister cities. Some of them have more robust gang activity,” Conklin said. “Beyond that, we jump on shootings. If we can’t get somebody on a shooting, we get them pretty quickly for gun possession.”
The philosophy is simple.
“Shooters are shooters. If we don’t arrest them, they shoot,” he said. “Same with homicides.”
So far this year there have been no killings in Stamford, Conklin said. He credits the city’s police officers for solving them when they occur.
“In the last five years, Stamford has had 20 homicides. Out of those, we solved 19. That’s a 95 percent solvability rate,” Conklin said. “Other major cities are at 13 percent, 32 percent, even though we all have similar tools, technology and working conditions.”
But perceptions about crime don’t always match statistics.
According to a 2022 survey by SafeWise, an online site that collects data to help people improve safety in their lives, only a little more than half of Connecticut residents feel safe.
But SafeWise reports that Connecticut has the fourth-lowest violent crime rate in the country.
The unsafe feeling may be the result of an uptick in property crimes, which include burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson. SafeWise reports a 9 percent increase in property crimes in Connecticut since last year – the most in New England.
Still, to keep things in perspective, statistics show that Connecticut’s property crime rate is the 14th-lowest in the country.
Something similar is happening with homicides and shootings, Conklin said.
“Homicides are down in Connecticut. Shootings, unfortunately, are up,” he said.
He may have news soon about the seven shootings that rang through Stamford in the first half of March, Conklin said.
“We have a good mechanism for gathering intelligence. I hope to have more in a short period,” he said.