Tuesday September 11, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Four young people, including a 12-year-old, are facing attempted murder and other charges in what police are calling a gang-related shooting over the weekend outside a house party. No one was hit by bullets.

The oldest, 18-year-old Caleb Pratt of Kellogg Street, was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on Monday. He pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and a single count of discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling. He was released afterward.

The other defendants are ages 12, 15, and 16. They, too, are facing the same set of charges. Since they are juveniles, no other information is available about their cases. It is unclear if they have been released from custody.

A group of between 8 and 12 teens showed up at a party on Second Street around midnight on Saturday "looking for trouble," according to a Pittsfield Police report.

The party broke up, but several of the partygoers went to a home on Prospect Street. Not long afterward, the same group of teens showed up at that house, said police.

The 31-year-old homeowner said the teens were "all hoodied up and with masks on" and were yelling the name of someone who was in her house.

According to police, when the woman came out and told the teens to leave, a girl in the group outside the house pulled a kitchen knife on her. The woman grabbed a stick to defend herself.

The 15-year-old and 16-year-old then pulled out guns, according to police. The 16-year-old shot twice at the woman, but didn’t hit her.

The group was allegedly chanting the words "Trey Crips," the name of a local gang. Police said members of a rival gang, "YRD," which apparently stands for Young Ride or Die, were inside the woman’s residence.

When the woman threatened to call the kids’ parents, they scattered, according to the police report.

Another witness, who said she was nearly hit by a bullet, told police she saw the teens shoot at a moving vehicle.

Pratt, the 12-year-old, and the 16-year-old were arrested a short time later.

Pratt and the 12-year-old were charged under the theory of joint venture, meaning they are considered to be equally as responsible for the crime as their codefendants.

On Monday, Attorney Joshua C. Hochberg, representing Pratt, said his client was "just as shocked as everyone else" by the shooting, didn’t have a weapon or participate in the incident and ran from the scene when he heard the guns going off.

Hochberg said Pratt is a life-long Pittsfield resident who recently graduated from Taconic High School and was working odd jobs over the summer to make enough money to attend Berkshire Community College.

Judge Fredric D. Rutberg released Pratt on $5,000 personal surety. If he gets into more trouble he could be forced to put up bail money.

Pratt was ordered to stay away from his codefendants. He is scheduled to be back in court in October.

The investigation into the incident is continuing. Police said they have recovered two knives. While no guns have been recovered, bullets and casings were recovered at the scene, according to police.

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident is asked to call Pittsfield Police Detective Nicholas DeSantis at (413) 448-9705.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6249.
On Twitter: @BE_TheAmelinckx