SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The year 2023 marked the highest number of homicides in the city’s recent history, with a total of 31 by December 4th. The violence began on New Year’s Day when Justino Bigio, 37, was shot and killed during a domestic dispute. Throughout the year, the city saw a surge in gun violence, claiming the lives of 28 men, two women, and one child.
Billy Spivey Jr., 44, was one of the victims of this violence, killed in a drive-by shooting on Albemarle Street. Despite 16 arrests made in connection with the homicides, including a stabbing and domestic dispute, the reasons behind the increase in violence remained elusive.
The rise in homicides puzzled both investigators and city officials, with Police Capt. Trent Duda expressing his frustration. “Why? I’ve said repeatedly: I don’t have an answer as to why, except that far too many people have guns these days. People just like to shoot people,” Duda said. The escalating violence also led to comparisons with other cities, such as Boston, which saw 33 homicides by comparison.
The victims of the homicides in 2023 ranged in age, from the oldest victim, Elias Cruz Jr., 56, to the youngest, a 10-year-old girl shot in her home. The motives behind the killings varied, from domestic disputes to drug-related incidents and robberies.
The investigations into the homicides have been evolving, with advancements in technology playing a significant role. Springfield Police Capt. Trent Duda mentioned the challenges and benefits of using technology, such as surveillance videos and social media, to aid in their investigations.
The rising violence has been attributed to several factors, including lower incarceration rates and the impact of COVID-19 and the George Floyd protests. Police Superintended Cheryl C. Clapprood pointed out that the diminishing jail population had a major impact on the rise in crime. Despite the challenges, authorities are continuing to investigate and make efforts to combat the violence. The year 2023 has been a harrowing one for Springfield, marked by an unprecedented level of violence that has left lasting impacts on the community.