Man Released by Judge After Firearms Conviction Now Connected to Ongoing New Bedford Homicide Case and Held As a Danger to the Community
Bristol County District Attorney’s Office
Thomas M. Quinn III
August 6, 2020
A 24-year-old New Bedford gang member arrested in connection to the ongoing investigation into the July 17th fatal shooting of Keven Rocha on Margin Street in New Bedford was found dangerous and ordered held without bail by a New Bedford District Court judge last Friday, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III announced..
Bruno Lopes is charged with Armed Assault in Dwelling, Carrying 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 Firearm Within 500 Feet of a Building.
During the district court dangerousness hearing, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Sylvia entered the following allegations into the record:
On the evening of the homicide, the defendant and Mr. Rocha were seen on surveillance video leaving Monte’s Park together and arriving on Margin Street in New Bedford. The defendant and Mr. Rocha entered the home, at which point it is alleged that Mr. Rocha pointed a gun at the occupants inside with the intent to rob. A struggle ensued, and Rocha is apparently shot and killed with his own gun.
After initially fleeing the home on foot, the defendant is then seen on surveillance video coming back to the home about ten minutes later with another gun. The defendant is accused of shooting at the home from outside at least seven time. The gun allegedly used by the defendant to shoot into the home was located by police on the defendant’s path of travel after the shooting.
At the time of this incident, the defendant was free due to a Superior Court Judge’s September 2019 ruling to set aside a jury’s guilty verdict connected to a May 2018 shooting. In that case, the defendant was convicted by a jury of his peers after a four-day trial in Fall River Superior Court on indictments charging him with Carrying an Illegal Firearm and Attempted Assault and Battery by Discharge of a Firearm.
On June 20, 2019, Judge Gregg Pasquale sentenced the defendant to serve the maximum two-and-a-half year jail sentence for the carrying of an illegal firearm charge. He was then sentenced to a second two-and-a-half year jail sentence, with one year to serve and the balance suspended for three years, on the attempted assault and battery by discharge of a firearm charge.
However, on September 30, 2019, Judge Pasquale allowed the defendant’s motion to set aside both jury verdicts based on their contention that the defendant could not be identified as the shooter on surveillance video. The judge then entered not guilty findings on both indictments and ordered the defendant released from custody. The judge’s decision is currently under appeal by this office.
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 4:00-5:00 am on July 17.
New Bedford Police responded to 17 Margin Street early that morning and discovered Mr. Rocha had been fatally shot inside of the multi-family building.
Ricardo Velez-Gonzalez, 33, of New Bedford was arrested July 21 and charged with Manslaughter in connection to the death of Mr. Rocha. He is currently being held without bail after being found dangerous by a New Bedford District Court judge in late July.
“This defendant clearly should be held as a danger to the community for his outrageous conduct of opening fire on an occupied building. 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. On May 24, 2019 he was convicted by a Bristol county jury of illegally possessing a firearm and firing into an occupied automobile. However, several months later in an extremely rare action, the trial judge, Gregg Pasquale, vacated the jury verdict and entered a finding of not guilty. He put the defendant back on the street and we have appealed that decision. In addition, the defendant was arrested in the City of Providence, Rhode Island on June 2, 2020 during a public disturbance,” District Attorney Quinn said.
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