From Brian Lockhart, CT Post:
As of Sunday afternoon, Mayor Bill Finch, following a U.S. Senate debate at the Klein Memorial Auditorium, had no plans to hold a news conference about the early Saturday murders of Chinese restaurant owner Mi Lin Zhao and 15-year-old Keijahnae “Nu Nu” Robinson.
Then an unidentified man was shot and became the city’s 14th homicide of the year at 1:30 Monday afternoon.
By 5:30 p.m. Finch, Police Chief Joseph Gaudett, City Council members and clergy were gathered before television cameras at police headquarters promising justice for the victims and to work together to secure the city.
“Maybe three’s the charm?” a frustrated Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Fairfield-based Connecticut Against Gun Violence, said a few minutes before the event began.
Bridgeport NAACP President Carolyn Vermont, who also attended, agreed the administration should not have waited until Monday evening.
“Now people are feeling even more a sense of hopelessness, and they need to hear from our mayor and police chief they’re doing everything to hold the crime down and catch the perpetrators,” Vermont said.
Asked afterward about the decision to finally schedule a news conference, Finch said, “It’s three in three days.”
The mayor entered Monday’s somber event with Robinson’s mother, stepmother and other relatives of the young girl, gunned down early Saturday morning on her aunt’s front porch. They had met for about an hour in Finch’s office.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure Nu Nu has not gone in vain, and we will do whatever we can to make Bridgeport a better place,” Finch said, adding later, “We are just about as fed up as you can get with this gun violence.”
Finch spoke about an ongoing partnership with the state and federal authorities, launched in May following the wounding of a preschooler in a crossfire on Bridgeport’s West Side. The effort is modeled on similar initiatives to curb gun violence in New Haven and Hartford.
Finch said the latest meeting between his administration, Michael Lawlor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s undersecretary of criminal justice police, and other state and federal officials will occur in the city Thursday.
“We are going to be implementing many new tactics,” the mayor said, noting some will remain confidential.
He also appealed to parents and guardians who are aware of a child possessing a firearm.
“You give the chief a confidential call,” Finch said. “Parents, do your job. Call us up.”
Lawlor in a phone interview afterward said he spoke with Finch over the weekend after Saturday’s two homicides. He said the focus is on pooling resources to improve law enforcement intelligence to solve and prevent crimes.
“The process of doing this right is kind of complicated. Every city is different,” Lawlor said. “This is only going to work if it’s tailor-made for Bridgeport. We’re not going to impose anything.”
Although certain enforcement programs are still being developed, Lawlor said the effort has already established a closer working relationship between Bridgeport police and state corrections and juvenile probation officials.
But Robinson’s mother, Dashan, following the news conference, expressed frustration with the progress.
“This happened with somebody else’s kid before it happened to mine,” she said. “Maybe if they did more, we wouldn’t be here for Nu Nu.”
Finch and Gaudett Monday said they believe the three homicides were committed with illegal firearms, and the mayor blamed the federal government for not doing enough to crack down on the problem. It was a theme Finch stuck with throughout the weekend when asked about the shootings–that it is a national problem and Bridgeport is not alone.
“If this Congress had an ounce of courage, they’d stand up to the National Rifle Association and say, ‘Enough is enough’,” Finch said.
The Rev. Moses Mercedes, of Prince of Peace Church, was one of the clergy standing behind Finch and Gaudett.
Mercedes also addressed the room and said the city cannot wait for Congress. He said his own father-in-law was gunned down in New York City in 1975.
“When I went to identify his body, he was number 75 that night,” Mercedes said. “We cannot wait for the government to do something … We ministers, legislators, police and whoever has a conscience have to come together to stop this nonsense.”