SPRINGFIELD – According to a preliminary investigation by police, on Monday, Victor Nieves, 34, of Springfield, forced his way through the front door of his downstairs neighbor’s apartment, where he fatally shot a grandmother and injured two of her grandchildren, before turning the gun on himself.
According to a press release posted to Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni’s Facebook profile, on Monday, Aug. 14, at about 2:40 p.m., Springfield police officers responded to 174 Berkshire Avenue following a report of shots fired.
When officers arrived on scene, they entered the first-floor apartment of the building, where they found Nieves deceased on the floor. Police also located the lifeless body of Kim Fairbanks, 52, of Springfield, alongside a deceased dog.
Fairbanks was taking care of her three grandchildren, aged 5, 10 and 12, at the time of the shooting.
Fairbanks’ grandchildren were hiding in the bedroom when police arrived. The two girls, aged 10 and 12, had apparent gunshot wounds. A five-year-old boy appeared to be unharmed. (The children were siblings).
All three children were transported to Baystate Medical Center. The 10-year-old girl was airlifted to Boston Children’s Hospital, where she remains in critical condition. The 12-year-old girl remains at Baystate Medical Center in stable condition. The five-year-old boy was determined to be unharmed.
“This is unequivocally one on the most heinous and cowardly acts to which I’ve had to bear witness as District Attorney,” said Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni. “My heart goes out to the parents of these children and the family and loved ones of Ms. Fairbanks. As investigators, we will do everything we can to support this family as we move forward and close the criminal investigation.”
Although no motive for the murder was mentioned in the release, in a statement Tuesday, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the attack was “unprovoked.”
According to MassLive, Nieves’ criminal record consists of a motor vehicle charge from 2017 and an illegal gun charge from 2011; and according to The Boston Globe, Nieves’ Facebook profile indicates that he left a daughter behind.
This most recent shooting is part of what local officials call a “recent upticks in gun violence” in Springfield. According to the Boston Globe, earlier on Monday, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni held an emergency press conference with local, state, and federal police to address the recent increase in homicide in the city.
According to a press release from the Springfield Police Department, in 2022, there were 21 shootings in Springfield from June 2 to Aug. 14, but only two of those shootings were homicides. However, this year, there have been 12 homicides, including four which took place on or after Aug. 6. (This does not count Monday afternoon’s murder-suicide).
Monday’s murder-suicide remains under investigation by the Springfield Police Homicide Unit and the Hampden District Attorney’s Murder Unit.