Gun seized as police target violent addresses 

Courtesy photo. This handgun and ammunition were seized by Lawrence police officers over the weekend near the Stadium Housing Projects, an area designated as a violence and gang "hotspot" in the city. Extra officers are descending on the hotspot areas with the help of grant money.

LAWRENCE — A 20-year-old Lawrence man was arrested over the weekend for having a fully loaded handgun with him illegally as he drove through the Stadium Housing Projects, police said. 

Police seized the Taurus Brasil revolver from the glove compartment of Albert Ventura's 2014 black Infiniti and placed him under arrest.

They are scouring "hotspots" for violence and gang activity throughout the city, according to a report. 

"We are being more vigilant and more visible," explained police Chief Roy Vasque of the extra patrols of roughly a dozen areas throughout the city. 

The list of hotspots was compiled by the department's crime analysis division and includes a variety of crimes, including last Sunday's murder of a young man, a crime which also left his girlfriend seriously wounded. 

On March 1, police responded to a report of gunshots fired at 90 Market St. at 3:09 a.m. 

Inside a car, officers found Alan Jimenez, 23, dead, and Angela Mateo, 19, suffering from gunshot wounds.

Jimenez and Mateo had been dating for the past several months, said Marilisa Mateo, one of Angela’s two older sisters.

Mateo was taken to Lawrence General Hospital and later airlifted to a Boston hospital, where she remains. Family members said her medical care is expected to be extensive. 

No arrests have been made in connection with the shootings. 

However, in the report regarding Ventura's arrest late Friday night, Officer Edward Estrada noted the "fatal shooting" had occurred roughly a quarter of a mile away. 

At the start of shifts, officers are provided "hot spot sheets of firearms related incidents in the city of Lawrence," Estrada wrote.  

Vasque said the alerts also include neighborhoods where gang members live — which can be the backdrop for retribution crimes. 

Some $150,000 from a state grant earmarked at reducing juvenile violence is being used to fund the extra patrols, Vasque said.

State police have been asked for assistance and Lawrence officers are also working closely with Haverhill and Methuen police, who are experiencing similar crimes, he said. 

"And as the weather gets warmer, we are going to have walking and bike patrols," Vasque said. 

In his report, Estrada noted he was working around the stadium projects Friday night because it was listed as a "firearm" hotspot. 

Around 11:20 p.m., he said he saw a black Infiniti traveling eastbound on North Parish Road with no front license plate and window tints that appeared illegal. 

Just as he went to activate his cruiser's blue lights, the driver, allegedly Ventura, pulled over in front of 212 Osgood St. 

As he left his cruiser, he said he saw the driver "reaching very quickly" inside the car toward the front passenger seat and center console. Ventura was ordered out of the car, pat frisked for weapons and eventually handcuffed. 

Ventura lives at 81 Avon St., Apt. 2. But he told Estrada he was in the neighborhood because he was going to visit a friend, "David," in the 200 block of Osgood St. 

According to the report, Ventura told officers they could search his car. 

Ventura was handcuffed and some six officers arrived as backup, Estrada wrote. 

The fully loaded revolver was found in the glove box, he said. Police also checked the Osgood Street address Ventura said he was going to. No one named David lived here, Estrada wrote. 

During booking, Ventura told officers he found the revolver on the ground at the Rockingham Mall in Salem, N.H., Friday night and placed it in his glove compartment, Estrada wrote. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill. 

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