Police Find Gang Member’s Loaded Gun in Cruiser After Arrest Tied to Lowell Ave. Shooting

Elijah J. Oliver made what is believed to be gang signs at WHAV's reporter during his Haverhill District Court arraignment Thursday. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill Police apparently missed a loaded handgun—which made its way into a police cruiser—during the arrest of a 19-year-old gang suspect Thursday morning.

Elijah J. Oliver somehow placed the gun, with seven rounds of live ammunition, into the rear of a police cruiser and sat next to it after being taken into custody just before 9 a.m. He was arrested on a warrant served by Haverhill Police who were joined by State Police. However, according to a police report obtained by WHAV, Oliver’s “tumultuous” movements upon being handcuffed apparently caused police to miss the gun during a “brief” pat-frisk.

The gun, a Smith & Wesson 9mm with seven rounds in a magazine, was discovered in the side pocket of the rear passenger door of the police car.

“The firearm could only have come from Oliver’s person,” wrote Patrolman Penny Portalla, who drove the cruiser. Oliver’s hands were cuffed behind his back, but he was observed during the drive to the police station possibly trying to free his hands. He then leaned against the door where the gun was later found.

At the police station, when Oliver was being taken from the car, Portalla quietly noticed the gun. For officer safety, Patrolman David Mekalian secured Oliver’s feet in leg shackles before Portalla announced the gun discovery.

Police did find $67 in the right front pocket of Oliver’s sweatpants and what was believed to be marijuana in his left pocket when he was arrested.

Oliver, whose last known address was 257 Lowell Ave., told police he’s “in fear” for his life after his Lowell Avenue home was firebombed and shot at earlier this month.

Oliver initially fled from approaching officers and allegedly resisted arrest, Haverhill Detective Sean M. Scharneck wrote. The teen became increasingly belligerent, Scharneck said, and yelled at other residents inside the home before officers took him away. One of those residents was Hector Negron, the 30-year-old arrested for disorderly conduct last week.

When Oliver arrived to Haverhill District Court later Thursday afternoon to be arraigned on the unlicensed firearms charges, his antics continued. As Judge Stephen Abany reviewed the case, Oliver made what is believed to be a gang sign at reporters, including WHAV’s representative, arguing that he was “trying to look pretty if they’re taking my picture.”

Oliver told Abany he could not afford the private attorney he used previously, but declined the services of court-appointed lawyer David Stuhr. “I wasn’t too happy with the outcome of other cases,” a defiant Oliver told Abany. Stuhr countered that Oliver “expressed concern about my ability to represent him and he does not want my involvement in his case.”

In order to allow Oliver representation, Abany continued his arraignment to Friday morning, ordering him held overnight at the Middleton House of Corrections. During Thursday’s appearance, Oliver asked Abany to put him in the jail’s general population overnight—mere hours after he told police he was in fear and begged Haverhill Police’s Scharneck to keep his family safe.

Oliver is said to be a “ranking member” of one of the two gangs involved in retaliatory shootings dating as far back as 2016 at Haverhill’s Swasey Field. Things hit fever pitch, police said, with the May 2018 drive-by shooting death of Nike Colon. Although Oliver’s gang affiliation is known to WHAV, it is the radio station’s policy not to name the group and afford it additional notoriety.

Stay with 97.9 WHAV FM for more on this developing story.