EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 31, 2014

One arrested in double shooting

Probe continues into melee in Haverhill neighborhood

By Mike LaBella
mlabella@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — Police said a man who shot another man in the head was shot himself by the victim’s brother moments later.

The shootings were part of a chaotic incident that happened at the intersection of Cedar Street and 8th Avenue last Friday, police said.

One man has been arrested and the investigation continues, police said.

The two shootings took place within minutes of each other, and police said they were the result of a drug deal gone bad.

Haverhill detectives arrested Cameron Vitalone, 22, on Wednesday outside of 66 5th Ave. as he got out a vehicle. Vitalone is the brother of one of the shooting victims. Police charged him with armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm without a firearms identification card and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling.

Yesterday in Haverhill District Court at Vitalone’s arraignment, Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo said that on Friday evening, police were called to the intersection of Cedar Street and 8th Avenue on a report of a disturbance and a shooting. Police found Robert Jacobs, who’d been shot in the left side of his chin. The bullet exited his left temple area.

Jacobs was taken to Lawrence General Hospital then Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, where he is expected to make a full recovery.

DePaulo said that police believe two people ended up getting shot last Friday night with the same gun: a .38 caliber Taurus revolver that police found on the sidewalk near 43 8th Ave. He said the State Police seized the gun, which held two empty shells.

DePaulo said the person who allegedly shot Jacobs was attacked by some of the people who came pouring out of the house that Jacobs had come out of, including Vitalone.

“At some point they take the gun from (the shooter) and at some point it ends up in his hands,” DePaulo said while motioning towards Vitalone.

DePaulo said that after the original alleged shooter was beaten, he gave up the gun and Vitalone shot him. DePaulo said a witness identified Vitalone as the person who shot the man who police later identified as Adam “Ace” Montgomery.

According to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court, during police questioning of Jacobs, he wrote out answers to investigators indicating that while he was in the hallway of his residence an unknown person pointed a gun to his head and demanded his money. Jacobs told investigators that he swatted the gun away and it went off, resulting in his being shot in the face.

The report stated that on Jan. 28, the U.S. Marshall’s office located Montgomery in Manchester, N.H., and arrested him on an unrelated probation violation warrant. Montgomery had a bullet wound in his right arm, the report stated. Montgomery was transported to Elliot Hospital, where he was interviewed by Haverhill police detectives.

According to the police report, Montgomery told investigators that he went to 8th Avenue and Cedar Street last Friday night to buy heroin but he didn’t know the name of the person he was buying it from. He said he was to meet the seller in the hallway of an apartment building, but when he arrived, there were four or five people there and they tried to rob him of the $280 he’d planned to spend on the heroin.

Montgomery told police that he was struck in the back of the head and somehow ended up outside, where he was punched and kicked. He told police that he did not see a gun in the hallway but did see one at some point.

Montgomery told police that he was nearly certain that Jacobs was the person he was there to buy drugs from.

DePaulo read portions of a transcript of a recording made by an audio/video surveillance system mounted to a Cedar Street building, which police obtained a copy of.

“At 1810 (6:10 p.m.) a faint pop is heard,” DePaulo said. “Moments later a man is heard screaming, ‘Jay, help, Jay.’” “Another voice says ‘he shot me,’ he’s got a gun, get him.’”

“Other voices are yelling, ‘drop the gun.’” “Another voice is yelling ‘he shot me in my f......g face.’”

“Drop it, drop it and I’ll let you go” could be heard several times, and ‘let’s go, the cops are coming.’”

“Someone says, ‘Shoot him nigga.’ “

“A loud gunshot is then heard.”

DePaulo said two minutes later the video shows Jacobs fighting with the man who allegedly shot him, while Cameron Vitalone is seen pointing something at the man. DePaulo said Vitalone then began assaulting the man, then says “come on Robert, let’s go.”

Vitalone’s defense lawyer Sean Gleason said the video doesn’t capture the entire incident and that there are some “serious questions” as to what actually happened. Gleason also questioned what the object was that Vitalone is said to have had in his hand in the video.

Vitalone’s family members disrupted yesterday’s proceedings by speaking out and were nearly ejected from the courtroom by Judge Stephen Abany, who warned them against any more outbursts.

Outside the courthouse, several members of Vitalone’s family spoke to The Eagle-Tribune.

They were angry that police had not, as of yesterday, charged anyone with shooting Jacobs and were angry that police charged Vitalone, who they said came to Jacobs’ rescue after he’d been shot in the face.

Robert Fitzgerald, who said he was Vitalone’s uncle, said Vitalone didn’t shoot the man who allegedly shot Jacobs in the face.

Fitzgerald said that after Jacobs was shot, his brother, Vitalone, came out of the apartment to help Jacobs, who was struggling to take the gun away from his alleged assailant.

Fitzgerald said that when he visited Jacobs in the hospital this week, Jacobs wrote a note on paper saying his brother Cameron was his “hero” and that he saved his life by coming to his aid. Fitzgerald said he doesn’t know who shot Jacobs’ assailant in the arm, but that it wasn’t Vitalone.

During the proceedings, Gleason asked that Vitalone be released on $5,000 cash bail saying it was all his family could afford and that Vitalone has a 1-year-old child he primarily takes care of during the day.

According to the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, on Nov. 28, 2012, Vitalone was sentenced to six months in the House of Correction after he was found guilty of possession of a Class B drug with intent to distribute, a drug violation in a school zone, conspiracy to violate the drug laws and unlicensed possession of ammunition.

DePaulo said Vitalone has a pending case in Superior Court on gun charges out of Lawrence and is scheduled for trial in April. He asked that Vitalone’s $5,000 bail in Superior Court be revoked and said he also has an open case in New Hampshire involving a weapons charge.

DePaulo asked for $100,000 cash bail.

“Now we’re up to three gun cases involving him (Vitalone),” DePaulo said.

Yesterday, Abany set bail at $50,000 for Vitalone and revoked his bail on the pending Superior Court case. Abany continued the Haverhill case to Feb. 14 for a status hearing.