EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 18, 2013

Hail of gunfire erupts outside child's party

By Jill Harmacinski

---- — LAWRENCE — At least two gunmen unleashed a torrent of gunfire as people were leaving a 7-year-old’s birthday party on Brook Street early yesterday.

Two were wounded, including a 21-year-old who was taken to a Boston hospital with a gunshot wound to his upper left shoulder, and another man who showed up at Lawrence General Hospital 11 hours later with four bullet wounds to his legs, police said.

Two others were arrested, but no one was directly charged with the shootings yesterday. The motive behind the crime was unclear, police said.

“Right now we have more questions than answers,” said police Chief John Romero.

A woman living at 35 Brook St. said she heard gunshots at 3 a.m. as some adult male guests were leaving a birthday party she had for her 7-year-old son.

After hearing two loud bangs, she looked out the window and saw two men. One of them was holding a gun, she told Officer Christoper Cote.

When her three guests ran outside to see what was happening and confront the men, more gunfire broke out, she said.

When police responded, they found three men struggling in front of the apartment house. Jeremy Maldonado, 20, of 39 Foster St., Lawrence, tried to run from police but was quickly stopped by Cote.

Maldonado told Cote he was trying to get away because he is on probation and he had marijuana in his right front pocket. He was arrested and charged with illegal possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. While he was handcuffing Maldonado, Cote said he “heard three more shots in the area.”

Officer Michael Colantuoni, who also heard the three additional shots, ran up Brook Street onto Milford Street. He saw a man wearing a white jacket “walking at a fast past towards the rear entrance of 163 Union St.,” he wrote. “I could see that this male was a carrying a black object in his right hand and I called out for him to stop.”

The man, later identified as Jose Rivera, 33, of 57 Brook St., kept going and ran up onto a back porch at 163 Union St.

Police then saw a man on the second-floor landing, only now he was wearing a black sweatshirt. Colantuoni said he could “see that the black sweatshirt he was wearing was covering a white article of clothing. When I pulled up his sweatshirt, I found that Mr. Rivera was wearing a white zip-up jacket,” he wrote.

A black handgun was found on a second-floor porch where Rivera had been, Colantuoni wrote. The handgun was seized as evidence. A resident living at 163 Union St. identified the black sweatshirt Rivera was wearing as one that was taken from a laundry pile there.

Rivera was charged with carrying a firearm without a license and illegal possession of a firearm without an FID card.

Police also seized numerous ammunition shells on Brook, Union and Milford streets and from behind 35 Brook St., police said.

Just after 4 p.m. yesterday, police interviewed the shooting victim with four gunshot wounds to his legs. The victim of a previous shooting, the man told Detective Kevin Nigohosian he did not know who was responsible for this crime. He said “he’d been at a friend’s house since being shot and was driven to the hospital by his sister.”

Police will not be able to interview the other shooting victim for a couple of days due to his condition, Romero said.

The shootings remained under investigation by detectives last night.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.