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September 8, 2021

Fair Haven businesses beg for help amid upsurge in violence 

Photo | Liese Klein New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, left, speaks to Fair Haven restaurant owner Luis Palomino.

Orlando Santos came home from vacation last weekend to find two bullet holes in the security shutter of his namesake business, Orlando’s Barbershop. The glass panes on the front door were shattered by shrapnel and he had to replace the whole thing. 

Turns out someone had sprayed the block with gunfire from a passing car.

Photo | Liese Klein
Orlando Santos of Orlando's Barbershop.

No one was hurt in the incident, but Santos is ready to call it quits on his location of 16 years, on Grand Avenue in New Haven’s Fair Haven neighborhood. With the recent spate of deadly violence in the area, he’s not alone in his frustration.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’m on my way out,” Santos told New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker on Wednesday. 

Elicker and other city officials visited Santos’ block of Fair Haven as part of a canvass of city businesses after yet another homicide.  

Fernando Gonzalez-Sandoz was shot dead on Monday on Poplar Street between Lombard and Chatham streets in the neighborhood, becoming New Haven’s 21st homicide victim of the year. Numerous shootings and violent crimes have been reported in the area in recent months. 

Elicker came to the event from the funeral of another homicide victim, 14-year-old Tyshaun Hargrove.

The atmosphere on Grand Avenue is tense: As news crews gathered to cover the mayor’s event on Thursday, several residents stepped out of nearby businesses, their faces tight with worry, to ask “What’s going on?” 

The crime rate has had a big impact on business at Salsa’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant at 99 Grand Ave., according to owner Luis Palomino. He’s packed up the tables and chairs he used for outdoor dining because customers are afraid of eating on the street. His employees also have to take orders to customers’ cars because they are afraid to walk inside. 

“There’s too much violence right now,” Palomino said. 

Business owners up and down the block said that more police presence was needed to combat the open drug dealing and crime occurring at trouble spots like a nearby plaza with a smoke shop and bar. 

Photo | Liese Klein
Lt. Michael Fumiatti of the New Haven Police Department speaks about Fair Haven's crime wave.

New Haven Police Department Lt. Michael Fumiatti, district manager for Fair Haven, said that the recent uptick in crime was due to “a lot of people trying to settle disputes with guns.” The city is trying to break the cycle through mediating disputes and taking guns off the streets, he said. 

“We need the community’s help with more information,” Fumiatti said. 

As for Santos of Orlando’s Barbershop, he’s tired of the crime wave scaring away customers and employees and worrying his family. Last weekend’s shooting may have been the last straw.

“To come back from vacation on my first day back home… I got to get out of here,” Santos said. He also hears from his customers in law enforcement that police officers are frustrated with the current anti-police sentiment nationwide. 

“They’re put in a position where they can’t work, they can’t do their job the right way,” Santos said. 

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker responded that the New Haven Police Department was understaffed and he intends to hire more cops as soon as possible. He also said that the city was one of many nationwide experiencing an upsurge in violence. 

“You’re the boss,” Santos replied. 

Contact Liese Klein at

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