BOSTON (AP) — Two men will face murder charges after a pregnant woman hit by gunfire on a bus in Holyoke, Massachusetts, delivered a baby that later died, authorities said Thursday.
Alejandro Ramos, 22, of Holyoke, was arraigned in Holyoke District Court on Thursday for his alleged involvement in Wednesday’s shooting, investigators said. He will be charged with murder, and other charges are expected to follow.
An official at the Hampden District Attorney’s Office said it was unclear if Ramos had been appointed an attorney yet.
Court officials said information about the arraignment was impounded. A spokesman from the DA’s office said a “not guilty” plea would have been automatically entered for Ramos.
Report on Virginia Beach mass shooting recommends more training for police and a fund for victimsDeadly Thai mall shooting exposes murky trade in blank handguns that are turned into lethal weapons3 doctors fatally shot and 1 wounded at a Rio beach, and the motive remains unclear
A second suspect — Johnluis Sanchez, 30, of Holyoke — remains hospitalized. Sanchez will be formally arraigned on a charge of murder when his condition allows, with additional charges also expected to follow.
A man who answered the phone at a number associated with a possible relative of Sanchez told the Associated Press on Thursday: “All that is misinformation. I’ll have my attorney reach out to you.”
Police are looking for a third suspect but do not believe the public is at risk, Chief Mark Pratt said Thursday.
Police responded to the shooting Wednesday at 12:38 p.m. and said it appeared three male suspects were involved in an altercation before gunshots were fired. The pregnant woman, who hasn’t yet been identified, was shot while seated on a public bus passing through the area and was taken to a hospital in critical condition, investigators said.
“The infant, who was delivered, and needed life-saving medical services, tragically passed away,” they added.
Mayor Joshua Garcia said Thursday a relief fund has been set up for the woman’s family.
“I want members of our public to every day — through commitment and kindness, through duty and care — to please don’t lose faith. And keep Holyoke the city in which that beautiful lost baby would have grown strong, to love and be proud of,” he said at a news conference during which city officials promised to work together to ensure public safety.
“We are developing a plan with all our partners to assure citizens of Holyoke that the change they’re asking for is coming,” said Pratt, the police chief. “The important thing is we’re going to have a plan. We’re going to be doing things immediately for more police presence, and then a longer strategic plan to just knock down these types of acts of senseless violence. We’re just done dealing with them.”
Jose Almonte, manager of the Almonte Market 2, said the chaotic scene erupted right outside his store.
A man who’d bought juice in the store was jumped by two other men when he stepped outside, Almonte said.
“They went for him, and gunfire started,” he said.
Almonte said he didn’t see who produced the gun but that there was a struggle as shots rang out and others sought cover. He said there were more than a dozen shots fired.
One man was shot in the leg and dragged into the store, while another man who was shot in the hand, ran off, Almonte said. The man who was jumped by the other two assailants fled on an electric bike with the handgun, he said.
Pioneer Valley Transit Authority spokesperson Brandy Pelletier confirmed that one of the agency’s buses was on its route when it was involved in the shooting but said there would be no further comment on the active investigation.
The Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office and the Holyoke Police Department are investigating.
Garcia extended his condolences to the woman’s family in a statement Wednesday on Facebook, adding that he is “equally outraged and frustrated with these senseless acts of violence and illegal activity on our streets.”
He said he struggles daily as he tries to offer a balanced solution.
“Quite frankly, I have lost my patience. I plan to work with all resources available to me to push this nonsense out of our city,” Garcia said.
Holyoke, which is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) west of Boston, is a city with a population of nearly 38,000. It is also home to the International Volleyball Hall of Fame.
AP writer Holly Ramer contributed to this story from Concord, New Hampshire. AP writer David Sharp contributed to this story from Portland, Maine.