Community leaders react to deadly Holyoke shooting
HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Witnesses and local leaders are worried about safety in Holyoke after Wednesday afternoon’s deadly shooting near Maple and Sargeant Streets, which is now shining a light on deeper issues surrounding gun violence and youth safety in Holyoke.
The Hampden District Attorney’s Office released new information and shared that the preliminary investigation by their Massachusetts State Police detective unit, in joint efforts with officers from the Holyoke Police, show that three men were involved in an altercation before firing gunshots that went flying everywhere.
“The young boy did not control himself. He came, making it fire. He fired everywhere no matter what. He got people around, he got kids around, he [didn’t] think about it,” said Jose Almonte, owner of Almonte Market in Holyoke.
Almonte’s market is right across the street from where it all happened and he told us gunshots even reached one his company vehicles.
“In the pickup, basically, it got three bullets in the shop and when I go, when I came inside, the police asked me for the video cameras, and basically, I see what we had to go before they fired,” Almonte added.
According to Mass. State Police, those gunshots hit multiple victims, including a pregnant woman who was riding a PVTA bus that remained on-scene for two hours after the shooting. She was taken in critical condition to a nearby hospital, where she gave birth to a baby, who tragically passed away.
Now, community leaders are reacting to this incident.
“It’s traumatic, you know, especially because we do so much work in the community, trying to get youth and families connected to services to help them get to better places. When you hear of a situation like that, it traumatizes everyone. It traumatizes a community, so I’m traumatized, you know, by something to that scale,” said Eddie Caisse, who works at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office.
Caisse spends his time trying to keep the youth in Holyoke off the streets. He leads the Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative, which is an effort between local, state, and federal law enforcement, as well as local organizations, to work together to identify at-risk youth, offer community resources, and better the quality of life for those who live in neighborhoods around Holyoke. He now worries that shooting incidents are becoming a pattern and said that offering help is key when trying to prevent deadly incidents.
“I could tell you story after story after story of a kid where people would say that ‘He is just going to be in the system. He is going to end up in juvenile court. He is going to get locked up’ but I have seen, you know, situation after situation where our coaches and volunteers have been able to develop relationships with kids that you could see were heading down that road and get them redirected,” Caisse explained.
An investigation is now officially underway.
The Hampden District Attorney’s Office believes that all suspects involved in the shooting have been identified and are now in custody.
Caisse also told us that he believes more volunteers are needed in Holyoke to help at-risk youth.
Western Mass News will continue to follow this story and will have more information as it becomes available.
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