State of Florida man arrested, charged in Turners Falls shooting case

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 08-31-2023 9:34 PM

GREENFIELD — The Florida man who was the subject of an hourslong search Tuesday after allegedly shooting a Turners Falls man in the thigh was arrested as a vehicle passenger in Holyoke later that day and arraigned in Greenfield District Court Wednesday.

Gil L. Viera, 30, of Sunrise, Florida, pleaded not guilty to 11 charges in front of Judge William Mazanec III, who ordered the defendant held on $100,000 cash bail or $500,000 surety. Viera faces single counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a Class A drug, possession of a Class B drug, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, carrying a firearm without a license, disorderly conduct, possession of ammunition without an FID card, possession of a firearm in a felony, assault and battery with a firearm, assault and battery causing serious bodily injury, and withholding evidence from criminal proceedings.

According to a probable cause statement filed by Joshua Hoffman, a detective sergeant with the Montague Police Department, he joined Detectives Justin Moody and Peter Lapachinski and Officer Nathan Pervere in responding to 11th Street in Turners Falls at 12:48 p.m. Tuesday for a report of a shooting, with the suspect having left on foot. Hoffman wrote that Moody and Pervere found the victim and his girlfriend, rendering medical aid and requesting assistance from the Turners Falls Fire Department and American Medical Response (AMR).

A witness on the corner of 11th and I streets reportedly told authorities the suspect headed into the woods by the Connecticut River. Hoffman and Lapachinski established a perimeter and requested a K-9.

According to Hoffman’s report, there was an argument between the victim and the suspect, known to people on scene as “Josh,” who had been staying with a friend on 11th Street. The suspect allegedly used a gun to strike the victim in the head before shooting him in the left thigh. The victim was taken to Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield and then Baystate Medical Center in Springfield with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Police made contact with the friend the suspect had reportedly been staying with since Aug. 26, who consented to have authorities search his apartment. On the reclining chair where the suspect had reportedly been sleeping, police allegedly found wax paper baggies containing small rocks of a chalk-like substance, consistent with the packaging of heroin and crack cocaine. Authorities also found a wallet containing a Florida identification card for a 30-year-old Gil L. Viera. The apartment’s resident confirmed the identification as belonging to his friend, who he knows as “Josh White.”

According to Hoffman’s report, two vehicles being watched by the Hampshire/Franklin State Police Detective Unit and the Northwestern District Attorney’s Anti-Crime Task Force eventually arrived on Mountain Road in Greenfield, where investigators saw a person matching Viera’s description enter one of them, a blue Nissan Altima. Authorities continued following both vehicles and confirmed the Altima was now occupied by four people. Police stopped the vehicle near mile marker 13.2 on Interstate 91 southbound in Holyoke, where Viera was confirmed to be a passenger and was arrested.

It was noted that Viera’s shorts, shirt, sneakers and the cash he had were soaked with water, indicating he crossed the Connecticut River while fleeing, the report said. No firearm was found and Viera did not cooperate with investigators in providing the location of one, according to Hoffman’s report.

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Viera is scheduled to be back in court on Sept. 26.

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