HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Western Mass News is continuing to follow the violence out of Holyoke.

Five gunshot incidents happened over the course of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Two of them were deadly.

A suspect was arraigned Monday afternoon in the case of the body found in the alleyway of South Bridge Street.

The victim has been identified as 21-year-old Jesus Otero Marrero, but the suspect before the judge today is not the main suspect accused of shooting Marrero.

Rather, he's accused of misleading investigators and being an accessory to murder.

Merkin Andrade, 30, was walked backwards into Holyoke District Court on Monday afternoon.

Assistant District Attorney Mary Sandstrom read the findings from last week's investigation into the murder of 21-year-old Jesus Otero Marrero. She said Marrero was found in an alley on South Bridge Street Friday morning with three bullet wounds to the head and several more in the chest.

Sandstrom said Andrade was initially seen on security footage walking with Marrero before taking a phone call from someone who they said was the primary murder suspect. She said Andrade was present when the unnamed suspect confronted Marrero with a gun outside near the alley.

"It should be noted that on this surveillance video, this particular defendant, Mr. Andrade, is looking on as this happens. He does not call 911, he does not call for assistance," Sandstrom explained.

Sandstrom said Andrade claimed not to know the primary murder suspect. She did not name the primary murder suspect, but said that suspect is a member of the La Familia gang in Holyoke.

Because of the La Familia connection to the primary murder suspect, Sandstrom expressed concern over witness intimidation if Andrade was released. The judge agreed to hold him.

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Jean Carlos Rivera (Photo provided by Hampden Co. D.A.'s office)

Late Monday afternoon, authorities arrested 30-year-old Jean Carlos Rivera of Holyoke on a murder charge in connection with the shooting, said Jim Leydon, spokesperson for the Hampden County District Attorney's office. 

Rivera is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

Though this is just one of five gunshot incidents happening in the city over three days, Holyoke Police would not say if they are connected.

Holyoke shooting map 1/9-1/13 WMN map

Western Mass News image

In another incident, police were on-patrol when they heard gunfire in the area of 131 Sargeant Street, according to Leydon.

Officers responded and found a male victim suffering from several gunshot wounds.  He was transported to Holyoke Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Leydon added that the victim has been identified as 21-year-old Racquese Wright of Springfield.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse did not respond to multiple requests for an interview, but did release a statement that read:

"My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the recent gun violence in Holyoke, and to our greater Holyoke community that has had to witness these incidents in our streets.

The Holyoke Police Department is currently investigating each incident, and is doing so with support from the District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department, as well as additional state and federal partners. Extra patrol shifts have been added, and work will continue to bring justice to those afflicted.

In addition to these responsive measures to violence, we will continue to push forward with proactive prevention across the city. 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. 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. My office will continue to support the work of these organizations, as well as our local law enforcement to ensure that resources are made available for continued prevention and response to violence."

Holyoke school officials also noted in a statement to parents that a Holyoke High School basketball game against a Springfield high school has been canceled tonight in light of the recent gun violence. They too are invoking possible gang violence saying, “Additionally, we have been informed that the violence is possibly connected to an ongoing rivalry and conflict between groups in Springfield and Holyoke."

All five incidents remain under investigation.

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Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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