Haverhill residents gathered at the makeshift street memorial in memory of shooting victim Nike Colon. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)
As Nike Colon’s family prepares to bury the 20-year-old killed in a drive-by shooting in Haverhill’s Mount Washington neighborhood, Colon’s mother is slamming reports that her son was a gang member.
Colon’s mother, Michelee Geronimo, spoke out after a poster on Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s official Facebook page accused the teen of being in a gang, citing an unnamed source in the Haverhill Police Department.
“That’s a damn lie,” Geronimo said. “They straight lied to you and with this comment I will (talk to) the police department to find out who told you lies about my son.”
As residents chimed into the social media conversation, Fiorentini offered his condolences to Geronimo—and a word of warning to his constituents. “As we all share our concerns, right now we have to remember that this young man had a family, a mother who is grieving, and friends and family who are hurting,” he wrote. “That needs to be our focus right now.”
A wake and funeral services for Colon were Thursday and Friday at Haverhill’s Kevin B. Comeau Funeral Home.
On May 18—mere hours after Colon was shot—Haverhill Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro told WHAV he was not ruling out gang retaliation as a motive for the killing.
“We’re still not sure about that. We have to get people to, obviously that we’re talking to people and we’re trying to piece the whole process together so, at this point, it is still too early for us to make a definitive statement about that,” DeNaro said.
The chief said it continues to be difficult to get opposing gang members to come forward.
“If its gang-on-gang violence, then the chances are very slim that they will come forth and cooperate because their mantra is retaliation,” he said.
Fiorentini and DeNaro announced Friday the hiring of two employees from Lowell-based UTEC in an effort to curb recent violence in the city.
Colon’s case remains unsolved.