NEW BEDFORD — A New Bedford man with two previous illegal firearm convictions has been sentenced to serve at least six years in state prison after being convicted of a third illegal firearm offense and witness intimidation.

Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III says 28-year-old Christopher Rivera pleaded guilty in Fall River Superior Court to indictments charging him with unlawful possession of a firearm and witness intimidation.

“This defendant has a history of possessing illegal firearms, which is contributing to the violence in our communities. He is a danger to the community and needs to be kept off the street,” District Attorney Quinn said.

During the night of September 4, 2016, New Bedford Police officers were on patrol when they heard gun shots.  Unidentified young males pointed a police cruiser in a general direction, gesturing that the shooters are headed in a particular direction.

Police went in that direction and got behind a car with two young males in the car.  The males kept looking back at the police and made several furtive movements.  The car's headlights were also turned off.

The officers activated their blue lights to stop the car, at which point the car began to accelerate at a high rate of speed.  A short car chase ensued that ended when the passenger jumped from the vehicle.  Inside the passenger's hand, police observed a bunched-up t-shirt.

A foot chase ensued and the passenger ultimately dropped the t-shirt.  When the shirt was dropped, the officer in pursuit heard metal hit the ground. A Smith & Wesson 9mm with one round chambered and five rounds in the magazine was found with the t-shirt.  A short distance later, Rivera was found shirtless and shoeless by another police officer.  Rivera was then positively identified by the officer initially chasing him.

While in lockup at the New Bedford Police Department, Rivera told the booking Sergeant, "wait ‘till I get out of here. Remember my face because I'm gonna get at you when I get out of here. I'm gonna make you pay. I'm gonna take you down."

Judge Thomas Perrino sentenced Rivera to serve five years in prison for the illegal firearm indictment and an additional one to four-and-a-half years for the witness intimidation indictment.

The case against the defendant was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Patrick Driscoll.

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