June 3, 2006
By TINA A. BROWN, Courant Staff Writer
Seven days after a barrage of gunfire wounded four members of Beatriz Chandler's family, they pondered who shot them and why.
A shattered front window, bullet holes and bandages are constant reminders of the drive-by shooting the night of May 26 outside 21 Westland St. in Hartford. Police on Friday said the family members aren't affiliated with any gangs, though they believed someone on the street was a target of an ongoing gang war.
They were among the 16 people in Hartford who were shot over a five-day period that ended Sunday, including 15-year-old Kerry Foster, who was killed late Sunday in a drive-by shooting as he stood on his porch on Clark Street.
The relatives were gathered outside the Westland Street home last Friday, talking about a family cookout that was planned for the following Saturday, when the gunshots rang out.
Rodney Chandler of East Hartford, Beatriz Chandler's son, said the sound was like "firecrackers." He was at the top of the porch of the multi-family home when he was hit first, wounded in the leg and knee.
His brother, Richard Chandler, 40, of Hartford, was facing him in the walkway. Their nephews, Sharmaine, 11, of East Hartford, and James, 17, of Hartford, were in the yard, as were younger children, including a 7-month-old baby in his mother's arms.
Sharmaine was hit in the upper thigh, and fell on top of Rodney Chandler. Richard Chandler, whose back was turned to the shooter, was wounded in the shoulder, back and leg. A bullet pierced James in the side and the lung as he ran around the back of the yard, through the rear door and onto the living room floor.
All four are recovering and openly questioning why they were targeted. All of them said emphatically that they were not involved in the street gangs described this week by Hartford Police Chief Patrick J. Harnett as responsible for the latest gun violence. No one has been arrested in connection with the shooting.
When Beatriz Chandler said she called city hall, she was transferred to the voice mail of Mayor Eddie Perez. The police confirmed them as innocent victims on Friday.
The Chandlers are a close-knit family. Rodney Chandler, 37, works as a mechanic in Enfield.
Richard Chandler has two jobs, delivering magazines and working in a West End restaurant. The children go to school.
"[The youngsters] wouldn't been out there if my brothers weren't there," said Patricia Chandler, their sister.
Added Rodney Chandler, "They shouldn't be shooting just anybody."
Now, they say none of them feels safe.
"It's time to move," Beatriz Chandler said. "It was a sad day when I looked out and saw my sons on the ground. I've got to move, everybody is jumping in their sleep."
The Chandlers say they are most worried about the youngest boys, also victims and not involved in gang violence. They gave James, one of the teenagers, the last word.
"I'm mad it happened," said James, who was shot in the side. "I wish I knew who did this and why."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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