Governor expresses horror at fatal birthday party shooting
By John McPhaul
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia reacted in horror on Tuesday to the multiple murder that occurred in a public residential area in Cataño on Monday where, among other people, a four-year-old boy was killed and other minors were wounded by bullets in the middle of a birthday party.
“It breaks my heart for what happened in that residential area in Cataño,” the governor said in response to questions from reporters. “I try to be measured in my statements, but it is an act of savagery to enter an area shooting where you are celebrating a birthday with children. That is, those responsible for this savagery must be given the full weight of the law. And I’m going to be personally following up on this case.”
Two men and a four-year-old child died and two other children were wounded by gunfire in an incident reported at about 7:31 p.m. on Monday in the vicinity of the Jardines de Cataño residential complex.
According to preliminary information, a call through the 9-1-1 Emergency System alerted police to a suspicious situation. When the units arrived at the scene, they found the body of 24-year-old Johnny Jay Osorio García on the ground with bullet wounds. In addition, a man identified as Jesús Carrasquillo Alecia, 24, a resident of Bayamón, and a four-year-old child died in a hospital as a result of injuries they received.
Two other minors, nine and 10 years old, were listed in stable condition.
At the scene, a .40 caliber handgun, 7.62 x 39, and a Honda Accord vehicle were seized.
Agents from the Homicide Division of the Bayamón Criminal Investigations Corps and the prosecutor on duty took charge of the investigation.
Asked what should be done about the surging social crisis of gun violence, Pierluisi said “We are doing it. Here and now, about 24 people are being arrested who are involved in this drug trafficking matter.”
“This has no easy solutions, but there is a law and order aspect,” the governor added. “We must identify them, we must process them and we must remove them from free society to protect us all because this type of incident cannot happen again, because every time it is repeated it will be a horror as it has been today for all those who were there.”
Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés said: “I grew up seeing crime in Puerto Rico, but toward children and the most vulnerable in the country, that has not been seen and I think we are losing respect for life, and it is up to all of us to instill it and carry the message of respect for life.”
Also reacting to the news of the fatal shooting in Cataño, New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Yashira Lebrón Rodríguez insisted on the reactivation of the “Value Your Life” program, a social-school impact platform focusing on providing orientation workshops in public schools on values such as tolerance and respect.
“This news is very sad,” the District 8 (Bayamón) lawmaker said. “The massacre at the Jardines de Cataño public housing complex has shocked the entire people of Puerto Rico. We need to tackle violence at its roots, and that includes implementing a values program in our public schools. Value Your Life, a program of the Department of Justice more than a decade ago, is a good initiative to work on immediately.”
The program, which focused on cultivating values of mutual tolerance and respect, was administered by the Justice Department from 2009 to 2012. It included the active participation of several government entities such as the departments of Family, Correction and Rehabilitation, Education, Recreation and Sports and the Puerto Rico Police, in an educational forum aimed at school students.
Interim Family Secretary Cení Rodríguez Troche reacted in a written statement Tuesday, saying, “The loss of a four-year-old boy in the middle of a shootout between criminals generates an indescribable sadness, but also an indignation before which we cannot be silent.”
“Those who committed these murders evidently do not have a shred of humanity,” she said. “I cannot even imagine the pain of that mother and father, who saw how a violent and vile act took the life of their little one. As a society, and this includes all of us – civil society, private enterprise and government – we must rethink where we have failed, so that respect for life has taken a back seat, and direct new prevention efforts. My condolences to that family and our prayers so that the other two children can recover promptly.”