Fitchburg officials seek to curb violence
Posted in the Leominster Forum
#1 Aug 6, 2013
FITCHBURG -- With the city rocked by two murders in less than two months and a spate of other violent acts, officials and residents are saying it's time for the violence to come to an end.
"It has to stop," Councilor-at-large Jeff Bean said Monday. "It sends chills down your back. We have to do something. Are there more to come?"
Early Saturday morning, 33-year-old Shaun Hibbard was gunned down at the corner of Forest and Charles streets. About six weeks earlier, 26-year-old Luis Rodriguez was shot in his Marshall Street apartment. In both instances, Bean said, terrified neighbors found the bloodied men on their porches, dead or close to death.
Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.'s spokesman, Paul Jarvey, said no arrests had been made in Hibbard's murder as of Monday afternoon. He declined to say whether there was movement in the case.
Before the weekend shooting, Hibbard's 30 Hobson St. residence was targeted on July 6 by three New Hampshire men who allegedly threw Molotov cocktails at the home. Their motive has not been made clear, but Hibbard's estranged wife, who was able to thwart their actions, told police Hibbard had a drug problem and a history of stealing to support it, according to court documents.
The home was quiet Monday afternoon, but marks left by the earlier Molotov cocktail attack remained. A melted front-door light and a scorched string of Christmas lights hung above burned siding and flame-bubbled paint.
In between the Hibbard and Rodriguez murders, there have been other violent incidents, including a 42-year-old man who was shot in the chest on Lawrence Street and a machete assault on Marshall Street, among others. On Friday night, a 32-year-old Prichard Street man was stabbed in the chest outside his residence after a confrontation and was in stable condition with nonlife-threatening injuries at HealthAlliance Hospital Leominster as of Sunday morning, according to police Capt. Paul Bozicas.
"Enough is enough," Bean said.
And he's not the only one who feels this way.
Kelly Johnson, a candidate for Ward 1 councilor, sent emails out Sunday night to current and prospective councilors and other community leaders, calling for a meeting to discuss the recent events and how the city can begin to address them.
"Our citizens are fed up, they are seeking a voice and action," she wrote.
In addition, Bean has asked Council President Jody Joseph to arrange a presentation by Police Chief Robert DeMoura and other Police Department personnel on current and ongoing efforts to reduce violent crime in the city at a special meeting. That meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Memorial School library on Wednesday, Aug. 14.
#2 Aug 6, 2013
Wong said Thursday's meeting will allow residents a chance to voice their questions and concerns, and discuss strategies the city is using as well as ways residents can help keep themselves and their neighborhoods safe.
"We also want to talk about overall how we see the city making improvements, but also where there continue to be challenges," she said.
Bean said councilors and residents need to be informed about what is being done to combat the violence, what resources are being used and how effective they are.
"The most important task we have is to make our city safe," Bean said. "It should be our number-one priority."
Wong said the trend over the last few years has indicated significant progress in youth crime, gangs and crimes related to issues at bars and nightclubs. She said the recent murders are isolated crimes in which the people involved had prior relationships and were generally not cooperative with police in terms of reporting issues and providing information.
DeMoura agreed the incidents were not acts of random violence, but said the two homicides are concerning. He touted the nearly 19 percent reduction in total crime the city has seen from 2007 to 2012, but acknowledged a nearly 5 percent increase in violent crime that has occurred over that same time period.
"When something like this happens, I can talk about reduction of crime all you want. But people don't want to hear that, because realistically, it's about what's happening right now," DeMoura said. "And just to ensure the public, we're on top of it, we're focused on it.
"We clearly have identified people, we're working at it, we're trying to get a solution to this last one with the District Attorney's Office," he added.
DeMoura said he is concerned about the availability of firearms in general, and the department is always looking to do covert operations in that realm.
He said police will continue to analyze data throughout the city, look for any emerging series and patterns and respond to them, as well as continue to work with the Neighborhood Improvement through Code Enforcement task force to help stem and prevent as much crime as possible.
DeMoura said little crime has been reported in the neighborhood around Forest and Charles streets, but that data will be re-analyzed to make sure nothing has been missed. He said police will be looking into what they can do to reduce the neighborhood's concerns.
DeMoura, Bean and Wong said information gleaned from residents reporting incidents is critical to police being able to understand and act upon them.
"We rely very much on people calling the police, and in the past, we've seen issues arise when people are not calling the police. It's one of the ways in which crime can escalate," Wong said. "So we encourage people to call the police if they see something unusual, no matter how big or small the issue."
Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alanasentinel or on Twitter @alanamelanson.
#3 Aug 6, 2013
Someone tell Demoura that Forest street has always been pretty much quiet with few incidents over the years. Take that schamtic plan that you have that supposedly points out crime before it happens and shred it!
Gangs have moved into Fitchburg and are fighting for turf within the city. They have been tagging businesses and veteran memorials with their gang symbols.
Drugs have been increasing within Fitchburg. If Demoura is that far out of our reality then maybe he should leave before December.
Demoura talks about crime being down 19%? But violence crime is up 5%. They are playing with statistics. The state police and Worcester county gang task force has been in the city heavily for the past two years. They have captured many illegal guns. Is this not included in "crimes" category?
Have these guns been tied to drug dealing gangs? Has all the rise in violent crime have to do primarily with gangs?
Let me ask Demoura, if we eliminated gangs from Fitchburg would there be so many drugs and violence??
Is there a gang problem yet?
#4 Aug 6, 2013
At least the Sentinel stated both sides. The citizens and the reality on one side and the chief and the Mayors list of progress on their resumes on the other.
The Telegram article was a very narrow view as it was all about Demoura and Wongs misconceptions and false realities in order to keep their political resumes clean.
#5 Aug 6, 2013
Comeing from a major city in the state of mass. Knowing gangs and gang activite. It sounds like its a gang problem. What I think is we should have more police out there protroling. I think we should have them out there every day all hours of the day. I say this because I never see them any where in this city. It also sounds like a drug problem as well. But no one will do anything. It seems to me that the police have a lot on there plates, or they just don't care. Everytime I read the newspaper lately it's another murder, rape, ect...
It just makes me sad and makes me want to leave Fitchburg. And I like it out here. I don't want to have to move away, I have made this city my home. I know I am in a city but there has to be some kind of peace here. The section I live in is pretty much quiet until u get to the end of our street. One other thing they should do is put more light on. Keeping it dark is inviting trouble!
#6 Aug 6, 2013
Welfare brings crime, welfare brings drugs, welfare brings gangs.
#7 Aug 6, 2013
I don't think it's welfare, I think it's the people who are doing these crimes, I really belive half of these crimes are drug dealers and gangs. I also belive we really need more police protroling our streets. And put the lights back on. The section I live in it's to dark. To the point where u can't see in front of you and it's scarey to even go to your car at night. This isn't rocket science people! It's doing what's right. Maybe people should go to this meeting and vent there concerns. If there is enugh people to complain about the same things maybe they will get off there asses and do something
#8 Aug 6, 2013
I don't think you understand, they are not scared of the police. The police don't influence them.
More police don't mean anything. Most gang activity and drug dealing takes place in the homes. It takes months of undercover work just to secure a search warrant to enter these homes.
Even if they had a drug deal takes place on the sidewalk and you reported it, what can the police do? Nothing. They need evidence and your statement is no longer strong enough to hold up in court.
What if you were outside and shook hands with your neighbor, can that be perceived as a drug deal? To some people it is, but if the police arrived and searched you then you will state they violated your civil rights.
Associates of drug dealers and gangs are the ones that need to report illegal activity and also become a witness in court. Most of them will never snitch. The police cannot go and arrest anyone just because they feel they are a gang member or a drug dealer.
The gang member look is now normal in today's society so how can you tell? The bloods, crypts and latin kings are nothing now. There are hundreds of gangs. Even normal working everyday people still belong to gangs because it is a lifelong commitment. So how will you know? Many of the higher ranking gang members own the better homes in nice neighborhoods and even the neighbors will never know.
The street lights are back on and have been turned on for 4 months now. There are many that need servicing or repairing. It is up the citizen to reports those.
The police, Mayor or anyone will not change the lifestyle of a gang member or dealer. Welfare does bring crime. That is the mentality of the welfare population.
Most multi-family drug homes have security cameras and the police know it. The cameras are not just to alert the gangs and dealers if the police are outside but they are to alert them of other gang members approaching.
#9 Aug 6, 2013
I have to agree with Droopy. The welfare system brings crime. A person gets section 8 housing and then they move in their brothers, cousins, uncles and sisters. None of them work and the shame of it is they are proud of that. They are all on some form of public assistance and have no second thoughts to commiting crimes. In fact they spend their time thinking about crimes to commit. oink bock.
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