Court documents reveal out of 28 homicides in Springfield, several suspects are repeat offenders

We’re getting answers following a record number of homicides in Springfield just this year and we’re looking at how police are responding to the uptick in viole
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 8:07 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - We’re getting answers following a record number of homicides in Springfield just this year and we’re looking at how police are responding to the uptick in violence.

“The question is, why was he out and the answers don’t make sense to me either,” said Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood.

28 homicides in Springfield so far this year, a record breaking number for the city, the latest deadly shooting happening just a few days ago.

16 cases have been resolved by the Springfield Police Department and the Hampden District Attorney’s Office, meaning suspects have been identified and taken into custody.

“More than half have some sort of a record and we are doing a good job here,” expressed Clapprood. “We have many murders that are cleared but we clear them and we do a good job and then we go to the families and say it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

Now, we’re digging deeper into their criminal histories, getting answers from Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl Clapprood on how the city is responding.

“We see people who are definitely a danger to society, to their families, to neighborhoods that need to be held until their case is heard,” explained Clapprood. “And then, if the evidence shows this person committed that crime, then we need to see longer incarceration. To protect the neighborhood and the families and the innocent people and keep that person incarcerated.”

While two of the fatal incidents were determined to be self defense, according to court documents obtained by Western Mass News nine of those 28 homicides involve suspects who have been behind bars before.

“By the second time someone is committing a crime with a firearm or someone is shooting at somebody and they show total disregard or there was a carjacking that person needs to get into the system,” added Clapprood.

One third of those nine suspects were arrested for what Clapprood defines as repeat violent offenses, which she believes should require them to be held longer.

  • Leshmarie Marin-Viera is accused of a fatal stabbing on Liberty Street back on January 29.
  • Hiram Martinez is accused of a double shooting on school street in June that took one man’s life.
  • Tyre Shakespeare is accused of a double shooting – killing a man and injuring a woman in June.

But Clapprood told Western Mass News, even if it’s not a violent crime, suspects need to be held responsible for their actions after they are arrested to break the pattern.

“We have done our job,” noted Clapprood. “The woman and men in the police department are out there making the arrests and gathering the evidence improving the cases. Meanwhile while we are doing that. They have ruined another life, another family, another situation. And it is so frustrating for us.”

Several of the other repeat offenders in these murder cases facing previous charges in connection to drugs and illegal guns including:

  • Rafael Calo who is one of the suspects in the murder on Belmont Street in March along with the other suspect Christina Guzman.
  • The accused shooter from the State Street murder on June 19, Michel Perez-Cruz.
  • Thomas Whitlock, the suspect in the Leland Drive murder in August.
  • Victor Nieves, the now deceased suspect in connection to the Berkshire Avenue double homicide in August.
  • Edgardo De Jesus, the suspect in the Hancock Street fatal shooting from August had previously faced larceny charges.

Another trend Clapprood has seen in the city, an uptick in young people committing crime.

Clapprood said younger suspects need to face harsher consequences, to potentially lead them down a different path.

“If they are brave enough at 13 to hold and fire a gun, then we have to teach them the consequences of doing that in responsibility if they want to live to be 14,” added Clapprood. “So if we with kid gloves treat the 13, 14, 15 year old because they car jacked somebody and again we are talking about the crimes like larceny or shoplifting, but if they are already committing a violent crime at 13 we have a problem with that individual.