Young violence in New Haven talk of community canvass

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Community leaders and volunteers knocked on doors Wednesday night, meeting and talking with families to try and prevent the type of young violence that befell Gary Henderson.

“I was 14 years old when I seen my best friend get killed in front of me,” said Henderson.

After his friend was killed by a bullet, Henderson said his life started to go downhill. He began hanging out with the wrong crowd. And then he became a shooting victim himself, struck in the back while riding his bike.

“We want to stop the senseless violent crimes that have been stealing our children from New Haven families,” New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said.

The canvass comes after two recent shootings that took the lives of two young men.

“There is nothing normal, there is nothing acceptable about losing a child,” said New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman.

“One of the things I am worried about, the people in New Haven hear gunshots all the time,” Harp said. “And I am really worried people will become desensitized to that.”

But help is out there for those who seek it. A mentor group called the Gang of Dads supports youth who don’t have a father figure.

Douglas Bethea lost his son to gun violence and is now helping others.

“I lost my son in 2007,” Bethea said. “He was going to my sister’s house to get her birthday money … Give back to your community, help someone out. Since his life was taken it made me want to work harder to save someone else’s child’s life.”

Added Harp, “We are going to do the neighborhood canvasses until we’ve hit every house we think is really important to hit at least one time.”

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