SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Police have identified the shooter and one of the victims in a shooting on Berkshire Avenue in Springfield, the incident pushing the city to its highest homicide count in years.
The 52-year-old victim in this week’s shooting is the latest in a tragic summer of gun violence deaths in the city of Springfield while two of the three children present from the shooting work to recover this morning.
Police have identified 34-year-old Victor Nieves of Springfield as the shooter. He killed 52-year-old Kim Fairbanks and wounded her 10 and 12-year-old granddaughters after forcing his way into their home. He occupied the second floor of the multi-family house.
The 10-year-old remains in critical condition at Boston Childrens Hospital. The 12-year-old is recovering at Baystate Medical Center. A third child, a five-year-old boy, was unharmed.
Fairbanks’ death brings the city to 23 homicides already this year marking a resurgence to pre-pandemic numbers.
Looking deeper into the numbers, the frequency of shooting events hasn’t actually increased in Springfield, just the number of homicides. The Police Department provided some insight into what they are seeing on the job.
“We’re not seeing a giant increase of shootings by any means, we are seeing an increase of ammunition fired at shootings, it’s up about 70 percent,” said Springfield Police Spokesperson Ryan Walsh.
Walsh added that more rounds discharged lead to victims being hit multiple times, which can lead to more negative outcomes, and that most of their shooting calls are targeted, street violence, often with multiple armed individuals involved.
Now, if we look at national statistics, there are similar trends, homicides and gun deaths as a whole are up to record numbers, but the rate per population of shooting incidents isn’t up quite as much. It’s a nuanced issue when we get to this level of statistics.
MAP: Homicides in Springfield 2023
From 2012 through 2018 no single year saw even 20 homicides. In 2019 there were 20 according to FBI crime statistics then 18 in 2020 and 2021.
Springfield Police reported a decrease in violent crime over those years. Now they’re looking for answers on what is driving the resurgence with four-and-a-half months still left to go this year.