Three arrested in armed home invasion on Shirley Street – Crime may be related to string of similar crimes in the region

Friday, November 20, 2009
By Joe Domelowicz

Winthrop patrol officers last Saturday night, arrested three male suspects in an armed home invasion, a crime that may turn out to be related to a series of similar violent attacks in the region, according to Winthrop Police Chief Terrence Delehanty.

“Although we have arrested three suspects in this case, there is an open investigation by our detectives unit,” said Delehanty. “We do not believe that this was a random attack. We do believe that there was a motive to this crime and we believe that the motive will become clearer during the course of our investigation. Our detectives, under the direction Lieutenant Detective Brian Perrin, are working closely with the victims, additional witnesses and with detectives around the region, where there has been a string of similar crimes in recent weeks.”

Steven Gonzales, 19, Ritchie Melo, 22, and Jeffrey Suaza, 19 have all been charged with armed home invasion with a firearm, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (firearm), unlawful possession of ammunition and armed robbery, following the incident which took place at approximately 1:15 a.m. on Sunday, November 15.

According to police reports filed by the responding officers, at least two of the three suspects are alleged to have broken into a rear bedroom of the second floor unit on Shirley Street, where one of the victims was playing a video game with a friend.

The alleged intruders were reportedly masked and brandishing a firearm when they entered the room and demanded to know, “where is the jewelry?” A fight broke out between two male victims and the two intruders, during which the masks on the intruders were partially removed, revealing the faces of the two suspects.

During the fight one of the male victims was pistol whipped by one of the intruders and the second male victim has reported to police that at that time he took a large amount of cash (Almost $4,000) wrapped in a rubber band and handed it to the intruders, who then fled the scene separately before police could arrive.

Upon arriving on scene, Officer James Freeman who had been dispatched to handle a domestic disturbance, took note of the large amount of blood that was visible from the street and called for police back-up and an ambulance for the victims.

The victims were able to provide officers with a partial description of their assailants, including what they were wearing and in which direction they had fled and Officers Freeman and Matt Zichella began a search of the neighborhood.

The suspects, fitting the descriptions they had been provided, were spotted a short time later driving north on Shore Drive without their headlights.

Officers Freeman, Zichella and Sean Delehanty then conducted interviews with the three male subjects and during that time identified what police believe to be blood evidence and other evidence on the suspects, which could link them to the crime on Shirley Street. All three were placed under arrest and charged.

“The detectives unit is conducting a search warrant of the car the suspects were driving in, to search for hides and other evidence,” said Chief Delehanty. “Lieutenant Detective Perrin and his unit hope to have the search completed in the next few days and are also following up on other information in the case.”

“The patrol officers who responded to the scene are obviously to be applauded for the way they controlled the crime scene and secured the physical evidence in this case,” added Delehanty. “They are also to be commended for the quick apprehension of the suspects in this case, just a short distance from the crime scene. It was excellent police work all around.”

The responding officers on Saturday night included Officers Freeman, Zichella, Sean Delehanty and Daniel Shea.

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