By Brian Fraga
Standard-Times staff writer
October 23, 2008 6:00 AM
NEW BEDFORD - A city teen charged in connection with a Tuesday afternoon shooting in the West End is being detained until a dangerousness hearing Friday.
A lawyer for Travis Mello, 17, says the teen was meeting with his probation officer when the shooting occurred and argues he should not be in jail.
"It's a violation of his constitutional rights to hold him when we have credible information he was here in the courthouse when this shooting took place," defense attorney Jenessa E. Gerard-Pateakos said.
However, Judge John M. Julian ordered Mr. Mello held after prosecutors said they needed time to prepare evidence and call witnesses for the dangerousness hearing in New Bedford District Court.
Mr. Mello was walking near County and Hillman streets just after 3:45 p.m. Tuesday when he was approached by Officer Paul Fonseca, one of several officers investigating a shooting on State Street.
At 3:25 p.m., police received emergency calls reporting a shooting in the area of 104 and 106 State St. No injuries were reported, but police found two parked cars with shot-out windows and bullet holes, court records said.
Multiple witnesses told police they saw two black male teens - one wearing dark clothes and the other a red sweatshirt - yelling at each other seconds before the shooting.
One witness said he saw a suspect running with a silver handgun and a blue bandanna over his face. Another witness reportedly saw the teen in the red sweatshirt telling someone on a cell phone that the person who shot at him had "bad aim," court records said.
A witness in Clasky Common Park told police he saw two young black men walking through the park minutes before the shooting. After hearing multiple shots, the witness said a man wearing dark clothes ran through the park and threw a gun into the bushes.
Police Officer David Brown later found a .357 Magnum revolver in the bushes, court records said.
The same witness said he saw another man running west toward County Street. When police brought Mr. Mello to the park, the witness identified him as the man he saw running after the shooting.
However, Mr. Mello's lawyer said he was meeting with his probation officer between 3 and 3:45 p.m. at New Bedford District Court.
The courthouse is approximately six blocks away from the shooting and four blocks from where police found Mr. Mello.
Ms. Gerard-Pateakos said her client's arrest was based on a mistaken identity. She said she will contact the Committee for Public Counsel Services to file a brief in an upcoming legal challenge to Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter's interpretation of the state's dangerousness statute.
"It just doesn't seem right when you have the evidence and he is still incarcerated," Ms. Gerard-Pateakos said.
Mr. Mello is charged with discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition, and two counts of damage to property.
Police are still investigating the shooting.