Recent shootings have gripped the city of Waterbury

Earlier this week, two women were shot on Walnut Avenue. One of them was 30-year-old Fransua Guzman. She was a mother of 4 children — killed when she was shot in the head. Waterbury’s Interim Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo says the gunman has not yet been caught, but investigators are making progress.

“The investigation has furthered – it has advanced,” he said. “And we’ll continue to work on that and hopefully bring it to fruition soon.”

About a week before those shootings on Walnut Avenue, 20-year-old Jesus Bryant was shot and killed in broad daylight on Catherine Avenue. Police say a 15-year-old boy confessed to that crime. 

And on Friday, police say a 17 year-old was shot on Division Street. All of this recent violence is generating concern among young people.

“There are so many different good people out here that are getting killed and losing their lives for no reason,” said 18-year-old Marquan Watson, of Waterbury.

Watson says one of his closest friends was a shooting victim in Waterbury.

“To see him go through that pain and suffering, it hurt me,” he said. 

The Waterbury Police Department is trying to crack down on the recent gun violence.

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“We have met as a command staff,” said Interim Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo. “We met with community leaders and community members to address their concerns and come up with some innovative ways to try to put a stop to this violence.”

“We have been in contact with the United States Attorney’s Office looking for assistance,” Interim Chief Spagnolo added. “They’ve been very helpful and we’re looking forward to getting back to work Monday morning and planning some aggressive patrols.”

Meantime, some people in the community are using the weekends to try to make a difference on their own. On Sunday, Oct. 21st,  a group called Make ’em Believe is hosting an anti-violence rally called “Bring Peace Not A Piece.” They are promoting it as a gathering in the park to bring awareness against gun violence and to help honor those who have lost their lives to gun violence or those who have been a victim of gun violence. That’ll be held at Library Park next to Waterbury City Hall from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

On Saturday, NBA hopeful Mustapha Heron — a former Waterbury High School star basketball player — held the 1st Annual Stop the Violence Basketball Tournament for players 14 and under. Heron said he came up with this idea to encourage kids to focus on more positive endeavors.

“The main message is living a positive life,” Heron said. “Anything can happen.”

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As part of his effort, Heron asked some special guests to speak with the players to encourage them to stay away from violence or from situations that may get them involved in trouble on the streets.

One of those special speakers was Otis Baskins, a Naugatuck police officer and a member of the Waterbury Regional SWAT team.

“It can happen to you,” Officer Baskins told a crowd of kids. “As good as you are, students you are, it can happen to you if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Another speaker was a man who Officer Baskins brought with him — a young man currently serving time in prison for an armed home invasion. The message William Jensen told the kids — don’t end up behind bars like he did.

“It absolutely sucks, you know? In that confined space,” Jensen said. “I couldn’t eat for three days. It’s hard to sleep. It absolutely sucks. The amount of depression, stress and guilt that you will go through.”