c/o Middletown Police Department

c/o Middletown Police Department

Multiple shots were fired in the area of Pearl Street and Court Street near the Old Middletown High School apartments on Wednesday, April 24, at around 2:33 p.m. The incident was immediately reported to the Middletown Police Department (MPD) and Public Safety (PSafe), and the caller noted that they saw a blue SUV driving away from the area. There were no injuries, no students or University community members were involved in the incident, and the scene was secured and declared safe by the evening of Wednesday, April 24.

Because of the violent nature of the crime, PSafe was not involved in the response to the incident, but was in communication with the MPD about what was happening. The MPD followed a suspect who fled the scene down toward Broad Street after shooting at the occupant of the blue SUV and was eventually apprehended on Hamlin Street.

The suspect was identified as 19-year-old Chauncey Robertson. Robertson was arrested, held on a $1,000,000 surety bond, and presented to the State of Connecticut Superior Court in Middletown on Thursday, April 25. Robertson was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal attempt to commit assault, unlawful discharge of a firearm, carrying a firearm without a permit, alteration of firearm identification markings, and use of a firearm in a class A/B/C felony, according to a press release sent out by the MPD on Thursday, April 25.

“The charges are based on what we developed for evidence,” MPD Captain Brian Hubbs said. “So in this particular case, we were able to confirm that the suspect had actually engaged in shooting a firearm…. The firearm that we recovered had the serial number scratched off…. We put together the facts of the case as we know them or as we can develop probable cause to support, and then we make sure that we charge them accordingly with whatever fits.”

Due to the proximity of the incident to the MPD station on 222 Main St.—a two-minute drive away from the Old Middletown High School—officers were able to make it to the area and take the suspect into custody in a matter of minutes. 

“My understanding is the call came in and it was about 20 seconds later that the officer was arriving on scene,” Hubbs said. “It was really quick. The whole thing from start to finish, in terms of at least grabbing the suspect, from what I recall through dispatch—it was like a minute and 30 seconds total. And that included the entire foot chase.” 

The incident was not a random act of violence, but a crime of opportunity by Robertson toward someone he was feuding with. The MPD emphasized that there is no ongoing threat to the community. 

With the help of a K9, the MPD was able to recover shell casings from different caliber firearms in the area of Pearl Street and Court Street, indicating that the person in the blue SUV may also have been shooting. A Smith & Wesson .40 caliber handgun was recovered at the rear of 51 Broad St., where Robertson was seen fleeing from the police. 

“We had one of our K9s working, thankfully, and the officers were able to say concretely where the suspect had run and the fact that they thought the suspect was carrying a firearm in his waistband,” Hubbs said. “When we caught him without a firearm, the K9 actually went backwards based on what the pursuing officers told him…. Because of his training and skills, [he] was able to find the gun that the suspect had discarded. So I…give kudos to my K9 guy because he was instrumental in finding that gun and recovering a lot of the evidence.” 

In his role as an MPD captain, Hubbs is responsible for coordinating resources. On the day of the shooting, he was on scene as an incident commander, which required him to create a perimeter and ensure that there were enough officers on site to handle the situation.

“I’m almost like a portal of information,” Hubbs said. “So that particular day, while my initial approach was to go check on my staff and make sure they were okay, once they detained the suspect, I then left…and took a more generalized approach…. Once the initial emergency is over, my job is to take a step back and start to delegate resources and staffing.”

After Robertston was detained, the scene was handed over to the detective division for proper evidence collection. Officers then began interviewing witnesses to better understand the timeline of the incident and the relationship between the two suspects. Detectives are still investigating the case and are attempting to identify and locate the second suspect who drove away from the scene. 

Despite the quick reaction of the MPD in locating Robertson and securing the scene, the University sent out a shelter-in-place order through the emergency alert system at 3:10 p.m., around 45 minutes after an arrest had been made. The shelter-in-place order was lifted at 3:27 p.m. and the University community was notified that the suspect had been taken into custody at 3:35 p.m. In a written statement to The Argus, the University did not comment on the gap between the initial arrest and the shelter-in-place order. 

“The University followed its emergency notification protocols,” the University wrote. “The response to any potential threat—which can include chemical exposure, severe weather, or the threat of violence, among others—is made on a case-by-case basis, dependent on the assessed threat.” 

Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Whaley emailed the entire University community—including parents and students off-campus—informing them of the shooting at 4:39 p.m., a little over an hour after the shelter-in-place order was lifted. The University sent a follow-up email including information about mental health specific resources—including Counseling and Psychological Services for students and the Employee Assistance Program for faculty and staff—and a comment on the emergency notification system on Thursday, April 25 at 3:41 p.m.

“Public Safety and Information Technology are reviewing the emergency system to ensure that all members of our community are communicated with in a timely manner,” the email read. “Each spring semester the University conducts an emergency preparedness drill with the most recent drill on Feb. 15. We will be in touch with a reminder ahead of the next drill.”

Shelter-in-place orders are very rare on campus. The University noted that there haven’t been any in at least the past year. Hubbs echoed this sentiment, mentioning that shootings are normally isolated incidents and not indicative of larger safety concerns.

“I can say pretty concretely that it is very infrequent,” Hubbs said. “It tends to be a very isolated incident and it tends to be very specific, where it’s targeting one [other person] and not a targeting of the general public…. It tends to be very isolated, which is why we don’t focus on it very much, and it tends to be solvable very easily.”

While no one from the University was directly involved in the incident, some students were near the Pearl Street and Court Street area while the shooting took place. Jack Setrakian ’25, who lives on College Street, was walking home shortly after Robertson was apprehended.

“I was walking back home to 200 College St…and I saw a bunch of police cars parked near the intersection between College and Pearl,” Setrakian said. “[I] didn’t really think anything of it, didn’t hear anything, but did think it was weird to see an excess of cop cars. Then I saw the phone call from Wesleyan come in and played that out loud and obviously heard that there was an active shooter very close to where I was located at the time…. A few days later, I realized those cars that I saw were probably the end of the whole thing, but definitely still a very anxiety-ridden moment for sure.”

Another student, Samia Segal ’25, was driving near the area during the time of the shooting and heard firework-like noises coming from Court Street. 

“I was running an errand in my car before class, and I was gonna run my errands in town and then drive up to class on Court Street at the Romance Languages building, and then obviously heard some things from outside of my window,” Segal said. “I tried to go back to class sooner rather than later and then got caught in the traffic.”

Being so close to the scene of the crime proved to be a nerve-wracking experience for Segal, who mentioned experiencing a nightmare the night after hearing the shots. 

“It was really scary hearing it,” Segal said. “What was more scary was when I was in traffic and people were sticking their heads out the windows to try to communicate about what was happening because the cops were doing a really horrible job of moving traffic through or getting people where they needed to be and also clearing the area…. That was pretty frustrating, knowing I heard something that was definitely not just setting a trash can on fire or something.” 

Since the incident, Segal reported checking the local news for more information about the shooter and being hyper-aware of her surroundings. Setrakian echoed feeling shaken up by the shooting, especially given his proximity to it. 

“You can never do so many active shooter drills to ingrain that it really could happen to you,” Setrakian said. “I think that’s kind of the main thing people always talk about with gun violence in schools, a numbing sensation when you read about a new one. But I think that feeling is definitely taken away when there is something happening at your school and you are right there on the next street over.” 

Students mentioned that the delay between the incident and the University’s shelter-in-place order added to feelings of fear and panic. 

“There was a big quiet period where nothing was happening, where no one knew what was happening,” Setrakian said. “I think that inspires a lot of panic, and I did hear from my friends that…people were in Exley on the top floor locked in, which seems a bit like overkill when you think about how quick it all went down, but when you aren’t getting any information from your school and there’s an emergency, that is something that I think should be worked on.”

Even though the incident was isolated and poses no ongoing threat to the community, the University offered safety tips for concerned students.

“Public Safety always recommends that students walk on campus in groups at night, stay in well-lit areas, stay aware of their surroundings, and report any suspicious activity immediately,” the University wrote.

The MPD is planning to release more information about the case as it becomes available. At the moment, they have sent out two press releases, one on Wednesday, April 24 and another on Thursday, April 25. Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call the Middletown Police Major Investigations Unit at 860-638-4140.

Caleb Henning can be reached at chenning@wesleyan.edu.