Gomes: Criminal Element ‘Infesting’ Every New Bedford Neighborhood
With the news that the victim in Monday's shooting in New Bedford was nothing more than an innocent bystander, it's becoming clear that violent crime in the city isn't just being inflicted upon those who pursue a lifestyle that welcomes it.
Instead, the 60-year-old victim, shot in the neck by stray gunfire as he was in his Tallman Street apartment, is proof that nobody is truly safe when shots are fired.
"It's a very tragic situation," said City Councillor Brian Gomes, who said he knows the victim personally. "It's a very awful situation for the city of New Bedford to be in."
Gomes is the Vice Chairman of the Council's Committee on Public Safety and a longtime chairman of the committee before that. Speaking with WBSM's Barry Richard, he said city leaders just aren't putting themselves out there to experience what the citizens are experiencing.
"Leadership needs to stand up and be counted," he said. "They need to be in the neighborhoods. They need to see it, feel it, taste it as I have for some time now."
He said he's not willing to just accept that incidents like Monday are just going to become status quo in New Bedford.
"The criminal element has gotten into every neighborhood. This is not the first time," he said. "I'm not into being immune to a shooting in the city of New Bedford. It's 100,000 people in the city. We should have a little bit more control."
Gomes says he is all for having agencies like the sheriff's department come in and assist with keeping the peace on the streets of New Bedford. He feels an increased presence of law enforcement--with a multi-agency flavor--could be a major deterrent to crime.
"I would be open to all agencies working together, using whatever resources are available to assist the city of New Bedford, we should be doing that," he said. "There are no walls here any more. The men and women, in whatever uniform they wear, whether it's State Police, ICE, the Sheriff's Department, New Bedford Police, they are law enforcement. If we can use them in some manner to assist us and make things safer, I think we should be doing that."
He said he's unnerved by Monday's shooting, yet another to happen in the middle of the day.
"There is no right time for a shooting, but it seems this occurrance of daylight shootings has been going on, and it goes to show the mentality of criminal we are dealing with," Gomes said. "There is no respect for the neighborhood. They don't care whether an innocent person is in their home, or school kids are getting off the bus."
Gomes said the key to fighting crime is the citizens of New Bedford stepping forward.
"Let's give (law enforcement) all the tools they need, and all the support they need," he said. "Be the eyes and ears of your neighborhood. Don't let anyone walk or talk that doesn't belong there. Pick up the phone, and tell the police department."
He said it shouldn't take violent crime for people to want to stand up and do something.
"We're talking about the same things over and over. The same areas are the breeding grounds that now have infested every neighborhood across the city," Gomes said. "It's not only the shootings. It's the robberies, it's the attacks, it's the slashing of car tires, it's the vandalism, it's the breaking and entering, it's the home invasion."
"We will never clean up crime altogether, but we can make it a city that doesn't tolerate it," he said.