Mayor Tyer, DA Harrington Focus Resources on Gun Violence
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Linda Tyer has called for an increase police patrols after a wave of shootings and one death.
A shooting in broad daylight on North Street in April left a man dead. From May 12 through last week, there were 13 shootings in Pittsfield, most of which happened in the city's West Side.
These recent shootings include an early June incident on First Street that left a Pittsfield man with multiple gunshot wounds and another early June incident where a Pittsfield man — Jesus Lugo — was arrested for shooting a firearm in the direction of a Linden Street address from the hood of a car.
In another incident on Francis Avenue, a motor vehicle containing a mother and two young children was struck by gunfire as well as a second unoccupied vehicle.
"I think it's really important to say to our community, and especially to this neighborhood, that everyone living in that area of our city is a victim of this gun violence," Tyer said on Tuesday. "They are tormented by this dangerous activity, and they are entitled to our protection."
Tyer asked for increased police presence in the hot-spot areas and the city is also receiving help from State Police.
The expanded police presence, she said, is what led to the arrest of Lugo when he fled on foot after firing a gun from the hood of a car.
The mayor also highlighted the number of local programs that address social issues that might lead to a person getting involved in gun violence. These include the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI), the non-profit family services agency 18 Degrees, and the Pittsfield Community Connection Program also at 18 Degrees.
"As far as I'm concerned, any shooting is dangerous whether it's two a year or 13 in a month, all shootings are dangerous, every one of them concerns me," Tyer said.
District Attorney Andrea Harrington said, from her perspective as a prosecutor, the focus of the Berkshire County DA's office is to put resources into violent crime and these kinds of incidents rather than over-prosecuting low-level offenses.
"It's about resources, but it's also about helping to build relationships in the community," she said. "It is very beneficial for people to feel safe, and like they have solid relationships, and if we're over-prosecuting people for minor things, then they're just not going to want to talk to us. The way we are going to solve a lot of these cases and identify the people in our community that is really dangerous is by receiving information from the public."
Restoring neighborhood safety will be much more successful with the help of the community, both women said, and especially from people living in the affected areas who may have helpful information.
Tyer vaguely referenced an arrest made in a fatal stabbing a couple of years ago because of surveillance video footage that was provided by a nearby homeowner.
"We are certainly putting everything that we have at our disposal into this shooting, as we have done in past shootings," she said. "And we will continue to, you know, deploy new law enforcement strategies, some of which we won't reveal to the public, but to reassure the community that we are actively engaged in this issue."
Harrington said it is important to focus on the aforementioned proactive efforts to prevent gun violence as well as reactive efforts with these types of incidents.
She has offered the support of the State Police Detective Unit assigned to her office and the Law Enforcement Task Force.
"We're definitely bringing all of our resources to bear, we have some pretty sophisticated resources, we have digital, and we have a lot of technology, and so all of those resources are being utilized," Harrington said. "And my message to people committing these acts is that you will be investigated, and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Pittsfield Police Lt. Gary Traversa stressed the importance of reporting useful information to the police.
"We can't do it alone, and I think that message has been put out, if you see something, say something," he said. "We publicize our tips line, both through the Pittsfield PD app and through the detective bureau tip line, obviously any tips that we can get on past shootings that have occurred in the last month and anything that may be happening."
Traversa cited the arrest of two juveniles for gun and gun possession on Francis Avenue in late May, which was reported with a call.
"We'd rather get ahead of it and get the guns off the street before something happens," he added.
"I would just stress the cooperation, if anybody has any information about past shootings or people being in possession of weapons, illegally and if you hear something, say something."