DA identifies victims in fatal shootings in Holyoke 

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/13/2020 12:01:38 PM

HOLYOKE — It has been a violent stretch in the Paper City, where police say there have been five shootings since Thursday, two of which were fatal and are being investigated as homicides.

The wave of shootings has prompted police to increase patrols and school officials to postpone a Holyoke High School boys varsity basketball game against Springfield’s High School of Commerce on Monday evening. Investigations into the incidents are ongoing. In a statement, Mayor Alex Morse said that in addition to “responsive measures” to the violence like extra police patrols, the city will continue with “proactive prevention” as well.  

“It is an unfortunate reality that at the root of this violence is our city and country’s continued struggles with addiction, mental health, and systemic poverty,” Morse said. “I am grateful for the work of our local teachers, mental health and addiction practitioners, and the dozens of community organizations that recognize the importance of strong community connections for a peaceful city.”

The first shooting was reported Thursday evening, when a man was shot in the leg at the intersection of Main and Sargeant streets. The victim had a non-life threatening gunshot wound on his right leg and was taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield by a friend, according to police.

On Friday morning, police were called to the area of 605 South Bridge St., where a man was discovered dead with multiple gunshot wounds. The Hampden district attorney's office identified the victim as Jesus Otero Marrero, 21, of Holyoke.

The DA’s office said that one arrest has been made in the case. Merkin Andrade, 30, of Holyoke, has been charged with misleading a police investigation and was expected to be arraigned Monday in Holyoke District Court.

On Saturday, there were three shootings in the city, one of which killed another 21-year-old.

Police heard multiple gunshots on Saturday while on patrol near 131 Sargeant St., where they found a man with apparent gunshot wounds, according to the DA’s office. 

That man was later identified as Racquese Wright, 21, of Springfield. He was transported to Holyoke Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The DA’s office has not announced any arrests made in that case.

Both homicide investigations are ongoing and are being conducted by the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit assigned to the DA’s office, the Holyoke Police Department and the DA’s “murder unit.”

There were also two other shootings on Saturday. 

Holyoke Police Lt. James Albert said that a “juvenile boy,” whose age he did not give, was shot in the leg on Saturday evening at 28 Gerard Way — a unit in the Jarvis Heights apartment complex. His injuries were not life-threatening, Albert said.

Soon after, Albert said, another apartment in that complex was “shot up.” There were no injuries, he added.

“Over 10, 12 shots hit the back of the house,” Albert said.

Albert said that the police chief has increased patrols in the city in the wake of the shootings.

Residents of the city have expressed sadness and shock over the killings. In the city’s public schools, additional counseling supports have been made available to students.

Police have not released any details about possible motives for the shootings. In a letter to school families, district receiver/superintendent Stephen Zrike said that while there have not been threats to any schools, the district had been informed “that the violence is possibly connected to an ongoing rivalry and conflict between groups in Springfield and Holyoke.”

“As a result, out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to reschedule tonight’s boys high school basketball game against Springfield,” Zrike said. “All other after school events are proceeding as planned.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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