On Monday, youngsters at the Asylum Hill Organizing Project
(AHOP) Summer Day Camp took on an activity far removed from the
usual fun and games. The campers broke into groups and created
posters expressing their feelings about the shooting of 12-year-old
Tiesha Doward on Huntington Street around 3 am. Monday morning,
August 3, said Luwannia Johnson, AHOP Youth Program Director.
On Tuesday afternoon, Doward was listed in fair condition at
Connecticut Children's Medical Center, a hospital spokesperson
said. Police are still seeking two suspects in the shooting,
said Hartford Deputy Police Chief Gerald Pleasent on Tuesday.
Johnson said the campers themselves suggested they make the posters,
which they then brought to a meeting between Hartford Police
officials and neighborhood residents Monday afternoon at Asylum
Hill Congregational Church. One sign read "It could have
been us," another said, "This is our neighborhood-Stop
the killing," and another read, "You need us for the
"The children reacted in various ways [to the shooting].
Some felt scared, some felt sorry for the little girl and some
were mad that this could happen in their neighborhood,"
Police say Doward was sitting outside her apartment building
at 57 Huntington Street when a dark green sport utility vehicle
pulled up across the street. The occupants of the van subsequently
became involved in an argument with a group of people standing
outside 42 Huntington Street. Hartford Police Lieutenant Mark
Pawlina said the argument might have been the result of an attempted
robbery or a "drug deal gone bad." Shots then rang
out but Pawlina said it is unclear if the occupants of the van
did all the shooting or if some fire was returned by the group
standing on the sidewalk. The suspects in the van then fled north
on Huntington Street.
Doward was wounded in the arm and upper left chest area. She
was given first aid by residents in the area prior to the arrival
of emergency medical personnel, who then transported Doward to
Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center. She was transferred
to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center later in the day.
Doward is a resident of Batavia, New York. She is staying in
Hartford with her biological mother, Carolyn Armstrong.
Police are asking anyone with information about the incident
or the suspects to call the Major Crimes Division at 527-7300,
ext. 5230. One suspect is described as a black male in his early
20's, bald and with a heavy build. The second suspect is described
as a black male, late teens to early 20's with a thin build.
Deputy Chief Gerald Pleasent said he called Monday's meeting
to tell residents exactly what transpired and "dispel any
rumors or gossip contrary to reality" about the shooting.
He called the shooting an isolated incident and said crime overall
has decreased sharply in Asylum Hill. According to police records,
crimes against persons have dropped from 321 in 1993 to 157 in
1997 and crimes against property have dropped from 1677 in 1993
to 1058 last year.
Pawlina did say "It's no secret that Huntington [Street]
has seen a lot of drug activity lately. We've been on top of
that and made numerous arrests...We've given that street a lot
of attention and we're prepared to give it a lot more."
Police have made 183 narcotics arrests, 287 loitering arrests
and issued 513 motor vehicle tickets in the area so far this
year, Pawlina said.
Williams, however, said that crime is still a major problem in
Asylum Hill, particularly in areas like Huntington Street. She
feels patrols should be beefed up even more in these areas and
said police should be "on the beat where there's heat."
Pleasant said extra patrols were run on Huntington Street Monday
night and several arrests were made. But he said there is not
enough money to make the extra patrols permanent.
The Hartford Police are currently working on several new developments
which should cut down on crime in Asylum Hill and other neighborhoods,
Pleasent said. The Hartford Community Court, which is scheduled
to open in a few months, should reduce the number of "quality
of life" crimes, such as littering and loitering. The State's
new Nuisance Abatement law will make it easier to prosecute landlords
who consistently rent to problem tenants. And the Police, the
Bail Commission, the State's Attorney Office and city residents
are currently looking into developing a "career criminal"
program aimed at persons who have numerous arrests.
Just making more arrests and giving longer sentences is not the
whole answer, however, said Pawlina. He pointed out currently
the Connecticut prison system holds only about 18,000 people
while over 20,000 arrests were made last year in Hartford alone.