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Arrests Expected In 'Chaotic' Bridgeport House Party Ambush

City Council member Anthony Paoletto, Mayor Joe Ganim, Police Chief AJ Perez and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal discuss an ambush-style shooting Sunday morning in Bridgeport. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Bridgeport Police Capt. Brian Fitzgerald answers reporters' questions at a Sunday press conference on an ambush-style shooting that left 13 wounded. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
At least two shooters are believed to have shot 13 people partying in the backyard of 19-21 Plymouth Street, left, from the hedges in the backyard at 31-33 Plymouth Street, right. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Eight of 13 victims have been released from the hospital and Bridgeport police expect an arrest “in the very near future” in the Sunday morning shooting believed to be the worst in the city’s history.

Thirteen people were wounded in the 1:30 a.m. ambush on a large Plymouth Street house party, including one woman who was shot in the face and was in critical condition at Yale-New Haven Hospital on Sunday afternoon, police said.

Police believe two shooters fired through 6-foot-tall hedges from the backyard at 31-33 Plymouth St. and struck the victims, who were all in the rear of 19 Plymouth St. Officers were called to reports of shots fired shortly before 1:30 a.m.

“We had a tough morning,” said Police Chief AJ Perez.

Police did not release the victims’ names, potential suspects or the motive at a press conference Sunday afternoon. It is not known yet whether the shooters were at the party.

Perez described a “chaotic” scene among the more than 100 partygoers, many of whom thought they were hearing fireworks until some realized they had been wounded.

The victims, who ranged in age from about 18 to 24, were rushed to Bridgeport Hospital and St. Vincent’s Medical Center by ambulances and private cars, while officers tried to piece together the evidence and interview witnesses throughout the night, said Capt. Brian Fitzgerald.

Eleven sustained non-life-threatening wounds to their lower extremities, police said. One of the 11 males shot sustained a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the face, police said.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who spoke at a press conference, said the woman at Yale “came within a millimeter of death."

“The gun almost hit her aorta,” he said.

Perez said the city denied the party organizers’ application for a party permit because they planned to sell alcohol, but they went ahead with the event anyway.

Mayor Joe Ganim, who has touted significantly lower city violent crime statistics in recent weeks, called the incident “a horrendous act” and Blumenthal said he was confident police would find the “animal” who committed the crime.

“We’re going to have an arrest in this matter in the very near future,” Perez said.

Blumenthal called for “common sense” gun control reform and vowed to have federal law enforcement “at the ready,” if needed by Bridgeport.

“(The city) is at the mercy of the trafficking and trade of guns that deluge the streets of Bridgeport,” he said.

Police have stepped up patrols in the East Side neighborhood known for the brick duplexes like the one at 19-21 Plymouth St., which were originally built as World War I military housing.

Fitzgerald said they are studying social media and looking for two or more large-caliber guns they believe were used. He said it was too early to say if the case is gang related.

Police did not receive any complaints about the party, which featured a DJ and loud music, until the call of shots fired.

"I'm infuriated by the news of last night's mass shooting in #Bridgeport, which left 13 people wounded," U.S. Sen. Chris Muprhy (D-Conn.) said via Twitter. "While I'm overwhelmingly grateful that no lives were lost, the contempt for human life driving this act of evil is incomprehensible."

"Last night's events in Bridgeport were shocking," Gov. Dannel Malloy said via Twitter. "So many thanks to the first responders and emergency personnel for their work."

Anyone with information on possible suspects or details should contact Detective Kenneth McKenna at 203-581-5245. Those with information can also call the anonymous tip line at 203-576-TIPS (8477).

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