Western Mass News photo

HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Police stepped up patrols in the City of Holyoke, which is now resulting in multiple arrests.

This is following a weekend punctuated by gun violence and two homicides.

In the last two days, there have been two arrests made by Holyoke police connected to homicide from over the weekend.

But just in the last 24 hours, local police have been working with the FBI Gang Task-force to make two other arrests.

Western Mass News cameras captured this stepped-up policing earlier today.

Western mass news captured this heavy police presence around noon at the corner of Sargaent and Walnut Streets, which is two blocks up from where a 21-year-old man was killed Saturday night.

Police confirmed they were searching a car after reports that a handgun was spotted inside, but they said they did not find any weapons and thus, no arrests.

Holyoke officers have been out in full force, making two arrests as a result of stepped-up policing with the FBI's Gang Task-force.

According to police, it's in response to the violent weekend involving five shooting incidents.

30-year-old Jean Carlos Rivera, accused of murdering 21-year-old Jesus Otero Marrero early Friday morning, pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday after being arrested Monday.

He's being held without bail.

And as of yet, no links between the two homicides, and the other shootings in the city that left two injured, one of them underage.

People in the City of Holyoke told Western Mass News they're scared to even be seen talking about the violence.

Those who didn't want to appear on camera, said they fear for their safety.

One Springfield resident who was visiting a friend in Holyoke didn't want to show his face on camera, but he did speak out about how frequently the two cities are compared when it comes to violence

"You’re going to get comparisons especially with the cities, towns, and cities being so close, you know we should be comparing good things, not the bad things," Springfield resident said.

All the victims from the gun violence over the weekend are under the age of 23, something this anonymous observer couldn't overlook.

"I just think it’s crazy because they’re kids who are so young. When I see the ages it’s like 17 to 22 and it’s...it’s just sad that kids at such a young age are doing this," Springfield resident noted.

Holyoke Police Chief Manny Febo released a statement Tuesday evening on how the city's latest violence could have been prevented, saying quote: 

"The January 9th, 2020 homicide of 21 year old Holyoke resident Jesus Otero-Marrero might have been prevented if a Federal Judge in Springfield had just imposed even the lower end of the minimum sentence time available within The Federal Sentencing Guidelines. In November 2019, 30 year old Holyoke Resident Jean Carlos Rivera, AKA “Carlito” as he is known throughout his South Holyoke neighborhood, plead guilty in United States Federal Court in Springfield for the charge of “Possession with Intent to Distribute and Distribution of Cocaine Base. We supported The United States Attorney’s Office as they argued for a sentence within the guidelines of 33-41 months in prison. The presiding judge however sentenced Rivera, a validated “La Familia” street gang member, to one month of time served and a probation term without explanation and he was soon released back into the South Holyoke neighborhood. Case investigators were stunned at the time. On January 13th, 2020, incident to an on-going homicide investigation, Jean Carlos Rivera was arrested and charged in the murder of Otero-Marrero. Otero-Marrero had been shot multiple times at close range in what can only be described as a “gang-land” slaying. My hope is for increased Federal judicial support for our community as we continue to improve the quality of life, having invested heavily in partnering with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to make Holyoke a safer place."

Coming up on Western Mass News at 6 on ABC40, we have an exclusive interview with the mayor of Holyoke about how he's responding days after what he's calling "a tough weekend."

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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