Fifth Avenue Shooting Is Retaliation for Colon Murder, Say Haverhill Police

(File photograph.)

Nike Colon's May murder triggered a “gang war” in Haverhill between two rival groups, according to police. (File photograph)

The May murder of 20-year-old Haverhill man Nike Colon triggered what police say is an all-out “gang war,” according to an affidavit filed after the city’s most recent shooting.

In court documents obtained by WHAV, Haverhill Police say the June 15 shooting on Fifth Avenue was a retaliatory strike against the gang that allegedly killed Colon. Summed up Detective Ruben Jimenez: “I believe the assault is a result of a gang war between these two rival gangs.”

Although the gang affiliations are known to WHAV, our policy is not to provide additional notoriety to the groups by naming them.

The victim in the Fifth Avenue shooting, a 21-year-old man, is a close friend of Colon’s alleged killer Eddy Almonte, according to police.

Using video surveillance and eyewitness reports, police determined the Fifth Avenue shooter to be 18-year-old Rony Vasquez. According to police, Vasquez walked up to the victim as he sat in a car outside 45 Fifth Ave., and shot him in the left ear before fleeing on foot. The victim required surgery to dislodge the bullet after it became stuck in his jaw.

Vasquez, of 11 High St., has a long history with police, Jimenez confirmed. Following the Fifth Avenue shooting, Vasquez was identified in part because the sweatshirt he wore that night was worn in one of his previous Haverhill Police booking photos.

In the days after Colon’s May 17 drive-by shooting death, Vasquez was “actively looking to purchase or locate more firearms because of the murder of his friend Nike Colon,” Jimenez reported.

Colon’s murder was not the first time the teen was targeted. In November, both he and Vasquez were the apparent targets of two separate shootings that took place just days apart. Neither man was hit.

“The (gangs) have had an ongoing feud for the past few years and this feud has resulted in multiple shootings throughout the city,” wrote Jimenez.

Vasquez returns to court Wednesday for a dangerousness hearing. He faces an armed assault to murder charge, among other offenses.