Connecticut Family Grieves Son Who Was Gunned Down While Home for Celebration

Odell Montgomery Cooper (left) and Michael C. Cooper, hold a photograph of their deceased son, Jonathan, at their home in New Haven. Arnold Gold-New Haven Register
Odell Montgomery Cooper (left) and Michael C. Cooper, hold a photograph of their deceased son, Jonathan, at their home in New Haven. Arnold Gold-New Haven Register

Odell Montgomery Cooper said her son came home for the weekend to show support for his sister’s achievement and to celebrate a cousin’s birthday. 

Amid the joyous weekend, her son, Jonathan Cooper, 25, was shot to death.

“This is not acceptable when it happens in our community. There are parents who are going through what we’re going through right now,” said Cooper, 54. “I don’t want another family to have to say to their child they can’t come home, because this may happen to you.

“It’s painful that this is our journey as mothers who have gone through this; this is our new normal — but it just can’t be,” she said.

Jonathan Cooper was gunned down early Saturday morning in Hamden near Arch Street and Dixwell Avenue while waiting at a traffic light.

Cooper, a city native who graduated from Metropolitan Business Academy in 2010 and moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., where he attended Sound Audio Engineering Institute, was just promoted to manager at a coffee shop.

“Friday morning he spent the day with us at ConnCAT to be with his sister, because she wanted her brother to be a part of the program,” said Odell Cooper, director of the culinary arts program at the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology.

“He and I went to dinner Friday night and after dinner he wanted to go to his cousin’s house to celebrate his birthday,” she said.

Odell Cooper said the last time she heard from her son was around midnight when he texted her to say he’d be home soon.

“They (my son and nephew) left my sister’s house to go to the store around 1:20 a.m.,” said Odell Cooper, who is an ordained minister.

“I got a call from my older sister around 1:30 or so telling me Jon had been shot,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it; he and I were just texting.

Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra said last week that police officers and firefighters arrived on Dixwell Avenue and found Cooper suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

Firefighters reported him dead at the scene.

Wydra said the shooting occurred at the intersection of Arch Street and Dixwell Avenue while Cooper was driving a vehicle.

Cooper had stopped at a red light when a dark-colored sport utility vehicle pulled up alongside him. A person in that vehicle fired several shots at Cooper.

Wydra could not be reached for further comment.

Odell Cooper said her son was living in New York because he wanted to go to school there, which she made possible.

“For the last three years I’ve worked sometimes three jobs to send him money and to help make sure he had better opportunities,” she said. “I didn’t want him here.”

Cooper’s father, Michael Cooper, who lives in North Carolina, said he spoke with his son a few weeks ago.

“I told him how proud I was of him for becoming a manager,” said Michael Cooper, 64, who is a support manager for Walmart stores in North Carolina. “We felt that bond; I was able to share some of my experiences as a manager with him.”

Jonathan Cooper came from a loving and professional extended family environment of doctors, lawyers, educators and retired military personnel.

“Our son has never been a street kid,” said Michael Cooper.

“We did everything right raising our children and this is our reward,” he said. “All I can think of is, ‘Why is my son dead?’”

Jackie Cooper, 26, said she is devastated by her brother’s death.

“He was my best friend,” she said. “We were inseparable, it was always Jack and Jon.”

Before Jonathan Cooper moved to Brooklyn to pursue education and other areas of interest, he was a security guard at ConnCAT and looked to ConnCAT’s CEO Erik Clemons as a role model.

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Source: New Haven Register | Shahid Abdul-Karim