NEW BEDFORD — A New Bedford man convicted of firing an illegal gun in a residential neighborhood in order to intimidate witnesses has been given a curfew until he is sentenced.

Joelle Perez, 18, of New Bedford, was convicted last week of carrying an illegal firearm and five counts of attempted assault and battery by discharge of a firearm in connection to the March 2017 shooting outside of a Thompson Street home. Perez, who was 17 at the time of the incident, was tried as an adult.

On March 2, 2017, Perez and several co-defendants attempted to threaten two witnesses to another crime and their families outside of a home on Thompson Street in New Bedford. The defendants walked up to the home and called one of the witnesses a rat, and then displayed knives while confronting another witness and his father further east on Thompson Street.

As the encounters escalated, Perez fired gunshots in the general area of where the witnesses were standing. One of the bullets struck the concrete foundation of the home, causing a fragment to strike the mother of one of the witnesses. Perez fled toward County Street.

After his conviction in New Bedford Juvenile Court last week, Perez was allowed to return to the streets with a curfew in place until his sentencing hearing on March 1. The ruling was made by Judge John Spinale in spite of an objection of Assistant District Attorney Matthew Sylvia.

“I am pleased the jury convicted the defendant as a youthful offender for these very serious acts of violence,” Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III said.  “Given the serious nature of the charges, I am disappointed the defendant was not held in custody pending sentencing on March 1.  Based on the jury’s verdict he clearly presents a danger to the community.”

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell was equally disappointed in the judge's allowance in the case.

“I’m deeply frustrated by yet another instance of judicial indiscretion concerning a demonstrably dangerous individual," said Mitchell in a release. "This time, the defendant was not merely charged with a crime of violence, but he had actually been convicted.  It is hard to fathom a legitimate basis on which he should have been released pending sentencing, despite ample reason to protect the public from him."

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