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Second In A Series: Hartford, Gangs, and the Police

An 11-year-old boy caught in gunfire on his way to the pool.

Jeff Cohen

June 29, 2010

The corner of Albany Avenue and Vine Street in Hartford has been ground zero for one of the city's more violent gangs, and over the past two years, the corner has been quieter. But as WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports in the second in a series on gangs in the city, that quiet was broken last week.

Eleven-year-old Jimmy Ramsay and his cousin were going to pick up a friend and head to the Keney Park pool last Wednesday night. Then, on Albany Avenue, he got caught in a drive-by shooting, shot by a person riding on the back of an ATV.

Jimmy Ramsay: “We was on Albany, we was coming out, we saw a bike, a blue bike, a four-wheel bike, a little kid and a man on it. So I saw the little kid, and the boy, pull out something out of his waist and I hear pop-pop-pop and I started running and when I look I saw blood around my feet.”

When he heard the pops, he first thought they came from a toy gun. Now, Jimmy Ramsay is on crutches outside his home on a tree-lined street in the city’s North End. It’s hot out, and his father, Mark Ramsay, is working out back. He says he and his son came to Hartford from Jamaica last year and he was in a class last week to get his license to drive big rigs when he got a phone call.

Mark Ramsay: "So I was in school and I receive a call and I leave and come back home. It’s just like he was at the wrong spot at the wrong time."

Being at the wrong spot at the wrong time luckily left Jimmy Ramsay hurt, but not badly. Small patches of blood show through the bandage around his left leg. The bullet didn't enter his body, but the fragments did. The night of the shooting, when he saw the blood around his feet, he did what anyone would do.

Jimmy Ramsay: “I would be balling, I would be crying.”

The shooting happened a mile away at the corner of Albany Avenue and Vine Streets, where Hattie Harris sits on her stoop with her friends the day after. She was inside when Ramsay was caught in the gunfire, but then she -- and everybody else -- went outside to see the aftermath. Harris says those shots broke the neighborhood's relative quiet.

Harris: "This is the first time we had something like this in a long time."

Jimmy Ramsay says he shooter with a helmet on was a boy; Harris says word is the shooter was a girl.

Harris: "All I know is the girl pulled...it was a girl…"

Cohen: "It was a girl…who?"

Harris: "The girl that pulled the shot. Right at the corner. Whoever the guy was she was trying to shoot, he was down there. It glazed him but it got a little 11-year-old. When they came by, they didn’t try to hide it."

Harris: "I just told someone that I guess if I'd have been out here, I probably would have passed out. Because it’s scary for a bullet to be that close, bullets have no names. So for someone to shoot that close, you sitting there and they shooting there and coming up, that’s scary. "

The same night that Jimmy Ramsay was shot, so was someone else. A man was shot 13 times on Farmington Avenue. Like Ramsy, that victim survived. Hartford police are investigating both and say they could be gang related.

Reprinted with permission of Jeff Cohen, author of the blog Capital Region Report. To view other stories on this topic, search Capital Region Report at http://capitalregionreport.wordpress.com/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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