HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Members of the Holyoke City Council are requesting an increase of police on foot in the area of High, Maple, and Main Streets after a deadly shooting.
Just about an hour after Holyoke Police announced the ShotSpotter system had seen an alarming number of activations on Wednesday, a bold, mid-day shoot occurred on Maple and Seargent Streets ending in the death of an infant after a pregnant woman, an innocent bystander riding a public bus, was caught in the crossfire.
According to Israel Rivera, Holyoke City Councilor at large and chair of the city’s public safety committee, people are afraid and criminals feel emboldened. He adds the first step right now is to push for more foot patrol on High, Maple, and Main Streets which Rivera and other councilors requested in a letter sent Thursday to the mayor and chief of police.
“We did this because we have been told by residents and business owners repeatedly that they want to see more of a police presence in the community,” said City Councilor at Large Tessa Murphy-Romboletti.
The City Councilors don’t believe that the increased police presence would solve everything but they do see it as an effective way to deter some potential violence.
“Community policing when done right is statistically proven to work. We are very optimistic that we are being heard and that this is being taken extremely seriously,” said Murphy-Romboletti.
Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia told 22News they are now working towards a plan to bring to those five City Councilors as soon as possible, “We are working on a plan that’s coming in front of the council and I expect 100 percent support from the Council to support that plan with funding, so that we could move forward and do what we need to do to ensure community safety.”
The non-profit Pa’lante Transformative Justice works with city youth, gun violence is one of the concerns they hear about. Youth Leadership Coordinator Christopher Lora said systems that fuel violence, like poverty and racism, have got to change.
Some of the people 22News spoke to in Holyoke said in light of Wednesday’s events, they are going to think twice before taking public transportation, “Taking the bus to get to Walmart and dying. Taking the bus to take your kids to a doctor’s appointment and getting shot. It’s not fair, it’s not safe and it needs to change,” said Annie Vaudrin.
Both Rivera and the police are asking for more vigilant citizens as well, encouraging people to call and report gun violence and other crimes.