In an unusual display of public anger, Hartford's police chief Wednesday gave vent to his feelings about the recent violence afflicting his city and the lack of decency among residents.
Chief Daryl K. Roberts was responding to a hit-and-run Friday afternoon that left a 78-year-old city man paralyzed, lying in the middle of Park Street under full view of passing motorists and onlookers, the savage beating and robbery Monday morning of former Deputy Mayor Nicholas Carbone and the discovery Wednesday of a badly decomposed body of a man in the basement of his family's recently foreclosed home.
"Those are three situations that dehumanize our community," Roberts said, speaking to reporters at an afternoon press briefing. "I'm ashamed to say our city has a toxic relationship with ourselves."
Roberts, normally upbeat about the prospects for reversing the city's reputation for violence and creating an atmosphere of safety, was appalled by the daylight attack on Carbone, who was assaulted by several young men as he walked to breakfast on Capitol Avenue, and a video of the hit-and-run shot from a streetlight camera on a bustling Park Street at 5:45 p.m. May 30.
"They hit a man, drive away and people walk by like nothing happened," Roberts said. "It's incredible how people could be so inhumane."
Roberts said he still isn't sure that anyone called 911. A patrol car heading east on Park Street came upon Angel Arce Torres as the officer was responding to another call.
Torres, who lived near the scene of the accident and was returning home after buying some milk, was in critical condition in Hartford Hospital, with head injuries and paralyzed from the neck down, according to police
"My father is here fighting for his life, man. I'm pleading to the people in this city, that if anyone knows anything, please come forward and call the Hartford Police Department. Whoever did this, if you're watching the news, please just come in and turn yourself in," said his son, Angel Arce "The family is going through a tough time. A lot of pain. A lot of pain, man. My father, he was just enjoying his retirement."
Witnesses reported that two vehicles were operating recklessly as they traveled north on Main Street before running a red light, turning west onto Park Street, crossing the center line and striking Torres in the opposite travel lane.
The cars, described as a tan, older model Toyota that was being chased by a blue or black older model Honda, continued west before turning right onto John Street, police said.
Bryant Hayre, 37, of Hartford, had bought a pack of Newport cigarettes Friday at Danny's Grocery at 33 Park St. and then walked over to the accident scene.
"Whoever did this should be sent away for a long time," Hayre said Wednesday. "It was as if he was a dog left in the street to die."
Hayre said he didn't try to help Torres because "people could see that he was conscious."
"I'm not skilled enough when it comes to blood flowing or I would have helped him," Hayre said.
Other bystanders speculated that people were afraid to get involved because they thought Torres had been shot or don't feel comfortable talking to police.
"Everybody knew him, but nobody helped," said Anthony Jenkins, 45, of 87 Park St. "I guess everybody is different. Some people are just out for themselves."
Torres was well-known on the block, where developers have proposed a $30 million retail and housing project called Plaza Mayor.
Richard Arnau, 72, lives in the same Main Street apartment building as Torres, a short walk from Park Street.