New Bedford Police Officer’s Home Reportedly Fired Upon
NEW BEDFORD — The home of a New Bedford Police officer was reportedly fired upon early Thursday morning, and two city councilors are wondering why they, other officers and citizens were not notified immediately.
“I know it’s an ongoing investigation, but you know and I know some things you can say, some things you can’t say, but you can say things to the public that wouldn’t impede your investigation,” City Councilor-at-Large Ian Abreu said.
WBSM’s Barry Richard reported on his program Friday afternoon that he had confirmed with multiple sources that between 2:30 and 3 a.m. Thursday, a single gunman fired eight shots into the apartment of a police officer. WBSM is withholding the officer’s name and address for safety and the integrity of the ongoing police investigation. The officer was reportedly on patrol at the time and no one was at the residence. He reportedly returned to find gunshot damage to his residence, and both shell casings and bullets were recovered from the property.
According to Richard’s sources, surveillance cameras picked up a vehicle circling the neighborhood before it parked. The operator of the car, who appeared to be a male dressed in black or dark clothing, then exited the vehicle, walked around, and approached the officer’s apartment. Footage showed that he then pulled out a handgun and discharged as many as eight rounds into the apartment.
The sources confirmed to Richard that the cameras picked up the license plate of the vehicle, and that records traced the vehicle to Fall River. Richard was also informed that the New Bedford Police Department knows who they are looking for in connection to the incident.
New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro issued the following statement to WBSM News in regards to the incident after Richard's initial report.
"Yesterday we confirmed to inquiring media that we are investigating a 'shots fired' incident on Yale St. This is an ongoing investigation that we will not jeopardize by releasing information prematurely. Doing so can pose tremendous risk to all those involved. At no point do we ever make public the identity of a victim during an active investigation or jeopardize their safety in any way. We disseminate all information relating to any critical event with serious consideration for victims, for public safety, and to best manage the crisis with the highest level of investigative efficiency.
At approximately 8 am police were dispatched to the Yale St. residence on a report of past shots fired. During the investigation we learned that around 2:30 am shots were fired. Very early in the investigation a vehicle of interest was identified. It was towed and is currently in police custody. As is protocol for any critical incident, officers were notified of the investigation within the same shift.
When we have further information that will be helpful to the public we will share it.”
City Councilor Brian Gomes, who chairs the council’s Committee on Public Safety and Neighborhoods, called into Richard’s program and confirmed Richard’s information prior to the statement from Chief Cordeiro. He also said that while he found the incident itself disturbing, he was “more disturbed that no one knew about it.”
“(Mayor Jon Mitchell) is who he is, I am who I am, but if I was mayor, let me tell you something – I want all resources on the ground right now. I want the state police task force here, I want the FBI here, I want any resources I can possibly have.”
Gomes said he was hearing it was potentially some kind of gang initiation.
“Is this an attack on this officer? Is this an attack on our police department?” Gomes said. “What is the message being sent here?”
Gomes said he was also concerned that other officers were not notified of this incident when it happened, but rather didn’t find out until hours later. He said when he learned of it, he reached out to people in the department that were unaware of the incident.
“I feel like my entire (police) department is being threatened right now,” Gomes said. “The word going out on this should have been immediate yesterday morning, notifying every officer as soon as this was out there that something happened to one of our own, and we should all be on the alert.”
Hear Councilor Brian Gomes with Barry Richard discussing the incident:
Abreu then also called into Richard’s program and echoed that while he found the incident itself disturbing, he too was concerned about the lack of communication with other officers, city officials, and the general public.
“I’m also frustrated that I have to get this information from some of the rank-and-file through anonymous phone calls and text messaging,” Abreu said, noting that his contacts within the department hadn’t heard about the incident until he asked. “It shouldn’t have to be like that.”
Abreu said “there should have been a press release, or city officials should have been notified.”
“It’s unfortunate when city officials are asked by constituents..and I knew nothing and I felt foolish because I couldn’t comfort my constituents reaching out to me on this issue,” Abreu said. “They were given no information because I had no information.”
Abreu also said the public should have been informed of the incident.
“There is surveillance in that area, there is footage. How much of a public aid would that have been if the license plate, and the vehicle, and the pictures were sent to your station, to New Bedford Guide, to the Standard-Times, so we could all share it amongst our networks as well?” Abreu said.
“Look, I understand public relations, I went to school for communications and journalism. I get it, you want to paint a picture so that folks who want to move here, and families, and businesses that want to invest here...you want to paint a picture, I get it. But you also can’t bury your head in the sand when these things happen. The public needs to know.”
Hear Councilor Ian Abreu with Barry Richard discussing the incident:
Jonathan Carvalho, Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Mitchell and public information officer for the City of New Bedford, provided WBSM News with the following response:
"The decision to release information about ongoing investigations is left to the Police Chief, and in this case, the Police Department released important information without sharing details that might compromise this investigation. The Mayor supports Chief Cordeiro’s decision concerning the release of details of the incident in question while it is under investigation," he wrote. "The Mayor well appreciates the need to keep the public informed, but as a former federal prosecutor, he understands better than most that the disclosure of some information not only can undermine an investigation, but can potentially jeopardize the safety of individuals connected to the incident."
Richard was also able to obtain an email he said was sent today from New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro to officers regarding the incident. It appears to have been sent at 9:48 Friday morning – about 30 hours after the incident. WBSM News has opted to omit the officer's name, but the email reads in part:
"Officer (REDACTED)'s house was shot at yesterday. I have directed our Detective Division to utilize whatever resources necessary to identify and bring to justice those responsible for this attack on one of our officers. This is a reminder that we are vulnerable and need to be vigilante (sic)," Chief Cordeiro wrote, before giving instructions to remain safe and suggestions on how to do so. "It is easy for us to become very comfortable or even complacent."
We will update this story as more information becomes available.