A 24-year-old New Bedford man arrested in connection with a July 17 fatal shooting in the South End was found dangerous by a judge and ordered held without bail, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III announced today.

Bruno Lopes, an alleged gang member, appeared in New Bedford District Court Friday three weeks after Kevin Rocha of New Bedford was found dead of bullet wounds inside an apartment building at 17 Margin Street.

According to allegations filed by ADA Matthew Sylvia, Lopes and Rocha were seen leaving Monte Park on that date. The two allegedly entered the Margin Street address together, where Rocha pointed a gun at the occupant "with the intent to rob." A struggle ensued, and Rocha was reportedly killed by his own gun. Lopes fled the scene and ten minutes later returned with a different gun where he allegedly shot multiple times at at the occupied Margin Street house.

Lopes is charged with armed assault in a dwelling, carrying a firearm without a license, carrying a loaded firearm without a license, attempted assault and battery with a firearm, malicious destruction of property over $1200 and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building.

Ricardo Velez-Gonzalez​, 33, of New Bedford is accused of causing Rochas' death. He was arrested on July 21 and charged with manslaughter.

In a media release, Quinn's office said that Lopes was only free on the street due to a judge's September 2019 decision to vacate a jury's guilty verdict in a May 2018 shooting. In that case, Lopes was convicted of firearms charges following a jury trial in Fall River Superior Court. Judge Gregg Pasquale sentenced Lopes to jail. Then he overturned the jury's guilty verdicts, entered not guilty findings, and ordered Lopes released. After handing down his sentence, Pasquale accepted a defense motion on the unreliability of surveillance video, a move Quinn called "an extremely rare action." The judge's decision is now under appeal by Quinn's office.

Quinn said back in 2019 Lopes had been convicted of illegally possessing a firearm and firing into an occupied automobile. Quinn said that Lopes was also arrested in Providence, Rhode Island on June 2 during a public disturbance.

"This defendant clearly should be held as a danger to the community for his outrageous conduct of opening fire on an occupied building," said Quinn in a statement. "He showed an utter disregard for the lives and safety for anyone in and around the building. He simply should not be out on the street."

New Bedford Police, Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office and Homicide Unit prosecutors continue to actively investigate the fatal shooting which occurred between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. on July 17.​

Enter your number to get our free mobile app