Like Batman, Ethan Rodriguez-Torrent ’13 witnessed a murderous attack that has inspired him to a life of crime-fighting. Unlike the Caped Crusader, the Yale senior said this week that he plans to wear a uniform, gun, and badge, as a member of the New Haven Police Department.
Rodriguez-Torrent and a friend were on a cross-country bicycle trip last summer when they stopped in Aurora, Colorado. They went to a midnight showing of the new Batman film. You know what happened: a gunman wielding a military-style rifle, a shotgun, and two handguns killed 12 people. Rodriguez-Torrent’s bike buddy, Stephen Barton, and another friend were wounded, along with 56 other moviegoers.
Rodriguez-Torrent and Barton grew up together in Southbury, Connecticut. The next town over is Newtown, where five months after the Aurora massacre, another gunman killed 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The events turned Rodriguez-Torrent into an advocate for gun control and a prospective police officer.
At a Connecticut public hearing on gun control on January 28, he told the New Haven Independent about his fear that another shooter might be waiting at the exit to the Aurora movie theater. Instead, he saw a cop outside and felt the relief of “knowing that I was safe.” When he returned to Yale, he enrolled in New Haven police chief Dean Esserman’s college seminar, “Policing America,” and decided that’s what he wants to do.
Recalling the officer whose presence calmed him in Aurora, he told the Independent: “I want to be that guy. Somebody has to be that guy.”
If he does join the NHPD, Rodriguez-Torrent will join at least one other Yalie: Lt. Anthony Duff ’88, head of internal affairs.