‘We need a comprehensive plan’: Springfield leaders speak out on weekend shooting

A Springfield teen is dead following a shooting inside an apartment building over the weekend, raising the city’s record murder rate even higher.
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 9:17 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - A Springfield teen is dead following a shooting inside an apartment building over the weekend, raising the city’s record murder rate even higher.

As the city mourns yet another young life gone too soon, city leaders are outspoken: something needs to be done to curtail the troubling issue.

Just before midnight on Sunday, Springfield Police officers responded to a shooting inside an apartment building on Lionel Beniot Road, the event claimed the life of a 17-year-old boy.

Police said 20-year-old Xavier Rivera and 18-year-old Luis Reyes-Santiago were in the room with the victim at the time of the shooting.

The two young men now charged with murder and carrying a firearm without a license.

There was also a 17-year-old girl who police said was there, but because of her age, they aren’t releasing her name or the nature of the charges she’s facing.

“Another sad day in the city of Springfield, particularly when it comes to young people and the epidemic of gun violence that’s not only hurting the city of Springfield but also the country,” expressed Representative Carlos Gonzalez.

Now, city leaders grapple with what can be done to keep the city’s streets and youth safe.

“I’m extremely concerned,” said Springfield City Council President Justin Hurst. “We have to get it under control. But the reality is this a result of a lack of 16 years of investment in our young people and a lack of investment in our neighborhoods.”

“I want our residents to know that our city is safe,” added Springfield City Council Ward 5 Lavar Click-Bruce. “We’re here to be proactive and coming up with concreate solutions that are going to be sustainable for our near future.”

Part of that proactive approach, a focus on prevention, education and getting kids off the streets through the new implementation of the universal city pass program.

As the city’s record-high murder rate continues to climb, city leaders said it will take a village to end the epidemic.

“We need a comprehensive plan to combat gun violence here in the city of Springfield,” noted Hurst. “And until we have that, we will never resolve this issue.”

Mayor Domenic Sarno reacted to what he called a “tragic and senseless incident” in statement that reads in part:

“Firearms are not toys and under no circumstances should be treated as such. This is not a movie, TV show or a video game, where individuals come back in a reoccurring role, this is real life.”

Given the age of the suspects at the center of Sunday’s shooting, State Representative Carlos Gonzalez said part of the city’s response must address getting guns out of the hands of young people.

“Its alarming to have young people readily having guns available to them and not having some sense of concern as to what a weapon can do to one family but to one community in general,” explained Rep. Gonzalez.

Representative Gonzalez said he hopes that different community-centered initatives and approaches will help reduce the stigma around asking for help before it’s too late.

The suspects in Sunday’s murder were arraigned on Tuesday and the investigation remains ongoing.