April 15, 2006
By MATT BURGARD, Courant Staff Writer
An ongoing feud between rival youth gangs in Hartford's North End is being blamed for a drive-by shooting that critically wounded a 14-year-old boy and a woman who rushed to his aid Thursday night.
Late Friday, Hartford police said they were close to identifying a suspect in the case, which has been linked to increasing tensions between rival groups of teens in the North End involved in a violent, territorial feud.
One group, from Albany Avenue, is known as "The Ave." The other group, from Westland Street, is called "Westhell," said Sgt. Emory Hightower, a police commander in the North End.
"There are hundreds of kids who identify with these groups, and they can be extremely immature and quick to resort to violence," said Hightower, who said the groups are attracting boys as young as 10 years old.
On Thursday night, a young man identified by police as 14-year-old Nick Oliver Jr. was walking on Westland Street about 8:40 p.m. when a car pulled up and a passenger pointed a gun outside, police said.
Oliver was walking near a group of other young men, and was struck in the thigh by the gunfire coming from the car, which apparently was intended for some of the other boys gathered near Oliver, Hightower said.
As Oliver fell to the ground, a woman who also was walking on Westland Street rushed to his aid and also was struck by gunfire, Hightower said. The woman apparently continued to offer words of comfort to Oliver as they waited for an ambulance to arrive, police said.
The woman, who has not been identified, was taken to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, where she was recovering from her injuries Friday, police said. Oliver, who initially had been reported to be in critical condition, was improving at St. Francis on Friday, according to Oliver's mother, Drenda Stanley.
Stanley said her son was walking to a nearby convenience store to get milk when he was shot.
"He wasn't doing anything wrong," said Stanley, the mother of four children. "It's getting crazy out here. These kids all have guns, and they have no conscience."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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