Six Weeks After Trinity Attack, Investigation Progressing Slowly
By JOSH KOVNER and STEVEN GOODE
April 18, 2012
In the six weeks since Trinity College student Chris Kenny was severely beaten on the edge of campus, the original premise that the attackers were thugs from the Barry Square neighborhood has faded.
But little else has been resolved in the case, and the Hartford interim police chief said Wednesday that with no witnesses coming forward, the case "is progressing very slowly.''
The March 4 attack prompted some parents of students to tell the media that "the community crime problem'' was out of control in Hartford, and moved Barry Square activists to demand an apology from Trinity for any insinuations that the neighborhood was responsible for the violence.
Police sources said nothing was stolen from Kenny, eliminating robbery as a motive. On March 7, police announced that passing motorists reported that five white people, two men and three women, all in their 20s, carried out the attack. Kenny, badly injured in the beating, has not identified or described the assailants.
Absent those details, the initial impression was left that non-students from the neighborhood had targeted Trinity students in a robbery and assault.
James Rovella, the former Hartford and state detective who is serving as the city's interim police chief, said Wednesday that investigators are pursuing the possibility that Trinity students were responsible for the attack. But he said that police are also still looking "outside of the college population'' for suspects, though not specifically in Barry Square. He said it would be unfair to limit the investigation to one group or another until more solid leads were developed.
Rovella stopped short of saying police are frustrated, though he added that no one has been willing to give a statement about who the attackers may be.
"We don't actually know who did it,'' Rovella said. "No one has come out and told us."
Sources familiar with the police investigation have said that detectives have explored whether an incident at a Trinity party in downtown Hartford earlier on March 4 led to the attack.
Michele Jacklin, a spokeswoman for Trinity College, said she had no information about that.
"As an institution, we are waiting along with everybody else for the results of the Hartford police investigation. When the results become known, we will have a comment,'' Jacklin said Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Trinity College President James Jones met with Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, state and city elected officials, and some residents of the city's South End community to talk about how to improve relations and strengthen communication between Trinity and the neighborhood.
Several parents of students told Courant reporters immediately after the attack that they would not have sent their son or daughter to the school had they been aware of the level of violence in the community.
The campus had experienced an uptick in crime before the March 4 attack. Trinity had added more guards, increased lighting and taken other physical security measures.
A day after the attack, Dean of Students Frederick Alford said, "We have been able to get enough information from the victim and his friend to know that the assailants are not Trinity students.''
But the initial police press release noted the lack of any physical description and said there were no suspects or known motives.
Kenny, who had a broken jaw, rib and cheekbone, was released from the hospital on March 6.
On March 7, three days after the attack, city police released the information that the suspects were five white people who had jumped out of a black coupe, but there was no mention of whether they were Trinity students.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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