Haverhill residents gathered at the makeshift street memorial in memory of shooting victim Nike Colon. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)
Four days after the drive-by shooting death of 20-year-old Haverhill High grad Nike Colon, residents of the Mount Washington neighborhood where the murder took place say they won’t let the incident shake their close-knit community.
Over the weekend, approximately 30 residents gathered at a street memorial on Washington Street assembled by Colon’s family and friends for an impromptu ‘peace rally’ organized by neighbor Keith Boucher. Mayor James J. Fiorentini and several members of the City Council stopped by to show their support and chat with neighbors.
Conversation largely focused on Fiorentini’s Friday decision to hire two UTEC street workers to combat violence in the city. Beginning this summer, Haverhill will employ a transitional employment coach and a mental health counselor to build relationships with gang-involved and at-risk youth, the mayor said.
Largely untouched by violence in recent years, the Mount Washington community remains on alert until those changes take place, Boucher told WHAV.
“There’s a lot of good things happening (in the neighborhood) but we also have to be diligent that this is also a little bit of a wake up call to some of the things that are maybe less understood by our neighborhood and what we’re less aware of,” Boucher said.
Boucher praised the efforts of his neighborhood colleagues—including the Mount Washington Alliance and Marlene Yeo of faith-based group Somebody Cares—while acknowledging there is work to be done.
“The biggest fear would be that this is the start of something that could be bigger than we think it is, but at the end of the day, I think we’re going to back and focus on the fact that we’ve built trust in the neighborhood over the last three years through what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We’re going to keep building on that and say ‘We’re taking our neighborhood back’ from things like this.”
To that end, the community continues to hold their weekly ‘Neighbor Nights’ on Wednesdays—encouraging residents to speak honestly and openly about their concerns.
Sums up Boucher: “We can’t let this one event re-define what we’re been trying so hard to do in the neighborhood.”
Colon’s murder remains under investigation.