SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A neighbor shot a woman, and two children in their apartment on Berkshire Avenue in Springfield Monday afternoon.
Officers were called to 174 Berkshire Ave. for a report of shots fired at around 2:40 p.m. Upon arrival, officers entered the first-floor apartment and found an adult woman, 52-year-old Kim Fairbanks of Springfield, and an adult man on the floor who both died due to gunshot wounds. A dog was also found dead.
Fairbanks was the grandmother of three siblings that were found in a bedroom, ages 12, 10, and 5, and taken to Baystate Medical Center. The 10-year-old girl was shot and flown to Boston Children’s Hospital, where she remains in critical condition. The 12-year-old girl who was shot is in stable condition at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. The 5-year-old boy was unharmed.
The suspect, who shot himself, is identified as 34-year-old Victor Nieves. He lived upstairs in the multi-family home and forcibly entered through his neighbor’s front door and began shooting at the occupants before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide, according to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office.
Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni stated, “I remain deeply saddened by this tragic attack and I am profoundly sorry for these children and their family members. This is unequivocally one of the most heinous and cowardly acts to which I’ve had to bear witness as District Attorney. My heart goes out to the parents of these children and the family and loved ones of Ms. Fairbanks. As investigators, we will do everything we can to support this family as we move forward and close the criminal investigation.”
Springfield Police Superintendent Cheryl C. Clapprood stated, “This is an absolute tragedy and I am praying for this family. In my forty-plus years at the Springfield Police Department, this is one of the most heart-wrenching incidents I can remember. I am extremely proud of my officers who were the first responders that were able to get these children to Baystate as rapidly as they did. We are holding a debriefing for those officers and will provide any support that we can because most officers won’t have to encounter a scene like that in their entire career.”
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno states, “I have spoken to the mother of the children who were seriously harmed by an unprovoked and despicable attack put forth by Victor Nieves to, first of all, offer my support, thoughts, prayers, and encouragement to her and her family. Also, my sympathy for the loss of the children’s grandmother, Kim Fairbanks. Simply put, what would possess someone to do such a hideous crime to an innocent hardworking family?” Mayor Sarno added. “I also want to commend our Springfield Police Department and AMR for the heroic efforts they put forth to get the children down to Baystate Medical Center immediately in order to save their lives. I ask our caring community of Springfield to keep this family in their thoughts and prayers and be prepared to once again aid them in their time of need.”
Fairbanks’ death brings the city to 23 homicides already this year, marking a resurgence to pre-pandemic numbers. 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.