Mother of teen slain in New Haven talks city violence

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The mother of a Hamden teenager gunned down in New Haven March 24 says the city needs to more closely monitor the youths who have had previous run-ins with the law.

“They need to really get the ones who are causing all the problems,” Natasha Pettigrew told News 8, “the ones that are on probation, just all the ones that keep going to jail, that are on the bracelets, they need to get them.”

Pettigrew’s son, Taijhon Washington, was shot dead last month while walking home from a friend’s house. He was gunned down on the corner of Lilac and Butler streets. He was 17.

The suspected shooter, 18-year-old Jeffrey Covington, was arrested this week and charged with first-degree murder, among other charges. He was ordered held on $2 million bond.

Taijhon Washington, 17, was gunned down in New Haven while walking home from a friend's house on March 24, 2014. (Photo: Contributed)
Taijhon Washington, 17, was gunned down in New Haven while walking home from a friend’s house on March 24, 2014. (Photo: Contributed)

Washington’s half-brother, Trayvon Washington, was also shot. The 16-year-old was seriously injured and is now partially blind in his left eye and still has a bullet in his head, his mother told News 8 this week.

“I just think they need more recreation for these kids,” Taheerah Washington said. “There’s nothing for them to do except walk around and get into trouble.”

City leaders say they are taking steps – literal steps – to reduce young gun violence in New Haven. And they say they’re all ears.

“Last week, we began canvassing the streets of New Haven and engaging families in conversation about what’s troubling our kids and what the city can do to provide assistance,” Mayor Toni Harp said. “We are working to restore more order on our streets.”

The “we” consists of police officers, firefighters, clergy members and regular citizen – all taking to the streets to talk to “at-risk” kids and their families. The city is calling the initiative “Youth Stat.”

According to an arrest warrant, sources told police both the victim and the shooter in the March 24 shooting were gang members.

“My son wasn’t into anything and he wasn’t a troublemaker,” Pettigrew said.”They always came to him.”

Jeffrey Covington, 18, is charged with murder for the shooting death of a 17-year-old Hamden teen in New Haven on March 24, 2014. (Photo: New Haven Police Department)
Jeffrey Covington, 18, is charged with murder for the shooting death of a 17-year-old Hamden teen in New Haven on March 24, 2014. (Photo: New Haven Police Department)

The day after the shooting, police said they found a Facebook post by the accused shooter, which read: “I go crazy for my squad. I go crazy for my strip.” The post had pictures of two blasts and a gun, police said.

The next day, police said sources told them that Washington and his half-brother were part of the Goodrich Street Bangers gang and that they were feuding with R-2/West Read gang members.

Then on March 27, a witness came forward and told police Covington was responsible for the murder, police said.

“The department gets our information from a community that trusts us,” New Haven police chief Dean Esserman said  after the arrest. “And I think we’re developing trust in the community and we have detectives out there who put in the hours.”

Covington is due back in court May 6.

“They took a piece of my heart away,” Pettigrew said. “Somebody that I raised for 17 years and I can’t see him anymore. How I see him is by going to a gravesite and it’s not fair.”

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