No Bail for Gang Member Police Say Attempted to ‘Gun Down’ Haverhill Couple on Washington Street

Mario Acosta Nov. 1, 2019 booking photograph (Courtesy Haverhill Police)

A known gang member police say attempted to “gun down” a Haverhill couple in what may have been a case of mistaken identity has been ordered held without bail, a Haverhill District Court judge ruled Friday.

Twenty-three-year-old Mario Acosta will spend the several days behind bars on two counts of armed assault to murder on the order of Judge Patricia Dowling as he awaits a dangerousness hearing Nov. 8. Picked up on a warrant Friday morning, Acosta also faces one count of carrying a loaded firearm without a license, driving with a suspended license and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building.

According to police, a 29-year-old Haverhill woman said she and her boyfriend were confronted Oct. 30 by two Hispanic men at the High Street Market when they stopped to buy cigarettes. The woman said the men allegedly “held up gang signs” and asked about their gang affiliation in what her boyfriend implied was a case of mistaken identity. When the couple left the store, they were followed by gray, Subaru Tribeca SUV driven by man later identified by police as Acosta.

Police used surveillance camera footage from locations near the convenience store to track Acosta’s movements and identify him as the driver of the car that followed the couple, who were in a blue Honda Civic at the time of the incident. In an interview the day after the incident, the woman told police her tire went flat and there was damage from a bullet she believed still to be inside the car.

Investigating officers found five .40 caliber shell casings on Washington Street, with witnesses reporting hearing five to seven gunshots.

“Through my training and experience I believe Acosta and his unknown passenger were involved in a joint venture to gun down the victims for an unknown reason,” Det. Dana Burrill said in his summary of the event.

As WHAV has long reported, Acosta is one of the key players in Haverhill’s so-called “gang war” that dates back to 2016 at Swasey Field.

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