BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Crowds of people took to the streets in Bridgeport on Wednesday evening to hold a prayer vigil and protest the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy by a police officer during a standoff over a stolen car, according to multiple media reports and eyewitness accounts.
The gathering was held near the scene of the fatal shooting near Walgreens, with people chanting the name of the victim — although the teenager has not been officially identified by name by police.
The rally, which began at about 6 p.m. with the streets blocked off at Fairfield and Park avenues, continued into the dusk. Mayor Joe Ganim, Police Chief AJ Perez and other officials were in the crowd, talking to residents and answering questions as speakers addressed the gathering.
At the rally, a number of blue balloons were released into the sky as a tribute to the teenager.
He was shot to death and his 21-year-old passenger Julia Fyffe of Bridgeport was hit in the shoulder late Tuesday afternoon after officers attempted to stop a stolen vehicle, police said.
Police had blocked the car in and pulled guns on Fyffe and the teenager as they were trying to get out of the car to surrender, Fyffe’s mother, Edris Lomax, told NBC Connecticut. She said her son, who did not know the car was stolen, was unable to open the car door, NBC 30 reported.
Fyffe, the son of a Marine and the grandson of a decorated city policeman, was getting a ride home from work.
At a press conference Wednesday, Perez said the officers were acting in self-defense.
He said the incident began when undercover units on Park Avenue noticed the stolen vehicle and called for backup. They got behind it as it pulled the wrong way onto one-way Fairfield Avenue and into the Walgreens lot, striking several vehicles, State Police said.
The car then sped onto Fairfield Avenue, Perez said.
Police boxed in the car, and two officers got out to try to get the vehicle’s driver and passenger out, he said.
As the officers approached the car, the driver accelerated in reverse and struck at least one Bridgeport police officer, State Police said.
In the scuffle, one officer was nearly pulled under the vehicle, Perez said.
Fearing for his or her life, one of the officers fired at least one round, striking both the driver and passenger, Perez said.
The passenger was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, and two police officers were transported to St. Vincent’s Medical Center with minor injuries.
Witnesses and anyone with any information are asked to text TIP711 and any information to 274637. All texts will remain confidential.
Click here to read the story at the NBC Connecticut website.