As the new year approaches, The Enterprise put together the following list of 10 stories that drew the most attention in Brockton in 2017.
TOP 10 BROCKTON STORIES OF 2017
– Brockton rep warns illegal immigrants of raid:
ICE is coming! ICE is coming! That was the message delivered by state Rep. Michelle DuBois, D-Brockton, who sparked a national controversy in late March when she served as a virtual beacon for undocumented immigrants, posting an online warning about a raid she believed would be conducted in the city by officers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “If you are undocumented, don’t go out on the street,” DuBois said in a Facebook post that quickly went viral, with conservative social media users blasting her for the message. Her immigration raid warning drew the ire of Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, who at the time was testifying to a Congressional immigration enforcement subcommittee hearing in Washington, where he accused DuBois and other elected officials of harboring and concealing illegal immigrants. Hodgson even said DuBois should be arrested for violating federal law, but she and other Democrats including Mass. AG Maura Healey said her warning was protected as “free speech.”
– Brockton mourns loss of Isaias Caban, freshman baseball player lost in a car crash:
The city of Brockton was rocked by tragedy when a freshman high school baseball player was killed in a car crash on April 18. Isaias Caban died at age 15 during a ride with friends after baseball practice, just down the street from his house, after the car they were driving in hit a tree. The 19-year-old driver, Jesus Alvarez Coreano, was later charged with vehicular homicide. Caban’s death resulted in an outpouring of support from students at Brockton High School and the community in general. Caban’s jersey number for the Brockton High School freshman squad, number 8, was later retired by the team in a memorial ceremony. Caban was remembered by fellow members of the Army Junior ROTC program at Brockton High School. Caban, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was also an active member of his Spanish language church, the Iglesia Pentecostal Huellas de Cristo, where his funeral was held before a packed crowd of mourners.
– Robbers had 2 knives in Brockton, but asked for just 1 dollar:
A Brockton crime story in October went viral for the absurdly small demand made by the armed robbers.
Brockton police said the two men who robbed a city convenience store asked only for a single dollar.
Police said the two men were armed with large hunting knives when they robbed Brockton Market and Deli at 238 Forest Ave. After getting the dollar they demanded, the knife-toting duo fled on foot, police said, running down Florence Street. No arrested were made.
– Driver charged in fatal Brockton crash that claimed mother of Whitman police officer:
Brockton police said she admitted to drinking liquor and frantically trying to buy heroin when she caused a fatal car crash on Oct. 3.
Danielle Mastro, 33, of Pembroke, was arrested on 10 charges including motor vehicle homicide. Police said Mastro drove into an SUV in front of her, killing the driver of that vehicle, after it veered into the path of a heavy dump truck. Deborah Combra, the mother of a Whitman auxiliary police officer, died as a result of the crash at age 58.
In addition to drinking six nips before driving her mother’s car that day, Combra allegedly admitted to texting her drug dealer right before the crash, police said. Combra remains held awaiting a trial, following a Superior Court arraignment in early 2018.
– DA said woman kept body for week after killing, dismembering man:
It was one of the most grisly murder stories to hit Brockton in many years. Kathryn Podgurski, 33, was charged with the murder of her boyfriend, whose body was found with about 40 stab wounds and was partially dismembered. The family of 44-year-old Brockton man Joseph Shaw reported him missing on July 17, before police received a tip the next week, leading them to a third floor apartment on Green Street where the victim’s mutilated, decomposing body was found. Shaw’s body had been partially dismembered – he was missing part of an arm and leg, police said. Compounding the tragedy for his relatives, Shaw’s family returned to the Green Street apartment after Podgurski’s arraignment and found a backpack with the missing body parts that shockingly were not collected by investigators. Podgurski is being held without bail awaiting a trial.
– Brockton city official to kneeling Patriots: Dance monkey dance:
A former Brockton city official was demoted from his job, lost his seat on the city’s Parks Commission, and resigned from his role as a youth football coach after he made a social media comment that was perceived as racist.
Stephen Pina, of Brockton, who was the manager of a regional veterans benefits center in Providence, made an online remark underneath a Boston 25 news Facebook post showing a picture of kneeling members of the New England Patriots on Sept. 24. “Turds, your dumbass isn’t paid to think about politics….dance monkey dance,” Pina wrote in the message. His comments, directed toward the players protesting during the National Anthem, who were predominantly African-American, were widely panned as either racist or, at least, racially insensitive.
Pina resigned from his seat on the Brockton Parks Commission after Mayor Bill Carpenter called on him to step down. Pina was also called by the Brockton Junior Boxers to resign as a coach.
But Pina, who is a veteran, said his comments were not meant as racial, and that he only wanted to push back against protests held during the National Anthem.
The Veterans Administration later decided to demote Pina and dock his pay, removing his from a supervisory role and decreasing his salary from $120,170 to $103,337, according to the press secretary for the federal agency.
– Caught on camera — plow driver dumps on Brockton homeowner:
A plow driver got axed by the city of Brockton after getting into a beef with a 21-year-old who was trying to shovel the end of his driveway.
Iuri Veiga, 21, spoke out in March when he said the driver got aggravated with his position at the end of the driveway, and then escalated the situation.
Veiga had surveillance camera footage, documenting the entire encounter, exposing how the contracted city plow driver went out of his way several times to dump fresh snow on the 21-year-old’s driveway.
Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter later saw the surveillance footage and personally apologized to the Veiga family. The plow company that employed the driver lost its city contract for the remainder of the year, but was allowed to re-apply the following winter, as long as that driver does not come back.
– City of Brockton loses discrimination case; $4 million awarded:
A 2011 complaint against the city of Brockton over an allegedly racial discriminatory hiring process, and acts of retaliation that followed, finally played out in a court of law. The result was a $4 million judgment on Jan. 30 against the city of Brockton, following a six-day jury trial, ruling in favor of the plaintiff, Russell Lopes.
The lawsuit claimed that the Brockton Department of Public Works and the city’s head of personnel, Maureen Cruise, acted in a discriminatory way to people of color applying for city positions. The lawsuit filed by Lopes, who was interviewed for a diesel mechanic job in 2010, claimed that white applicants were given preferential treatment by Cruise and others.
Cruise denied claims of racial discrimination on her part, through a lawyer hired by the city, and the city continues to follow the appeal process.
– Man shot to death outside Brockton house party:
In the aftermath of a city-permitted block party, a 26-year-old Brockton father was shot to death in the early hours of July 10, police said.
No arrests have been made in connection to the death of Stephen Cabral, 26, who was killed in a shooting at 116 Myrtle St. A 20-year-old woman was also injured in the shooting, police said.
Cabral was at a house party that took place after the city-permitted block party had ended, police said.
But the tragic incident led Mayor Bill Carpenter and the Brockton City Council to introduce new regulations to shore up out-of-control block parties.
Cabral, who was known as “Scuba” by loved ones, was a 2009 graduate of Brockton High School and was the father of a 4-year-old boy.
– 27 arrested in Brockton for violent offenses, drug charges:
In a sweep that utilized law enforcement throughout southeastern Massachusetts, more than 100 officers from various regional and state agencies donned camouflage clothing and bullet-proof vests for a raid that resulted in 27 arrests on June 21 in Brockton.
Some of the law enforcement officers were seen holding shields, and others were armed with long guns, during the morning raid.
During the operation, a firearm and more than 100 grams of cocaine were seized, while 27 people were arrested on a variety of violent offenses and drug charges.
The main target of the investigation, identified by police as Douglas Arthur Norris, was not located initially. But police said, in addition to crack cocaine, they seized 30 rounds of various caliber ammunition and a loaded Smith & Wesson semiautomatic handgun from Norris.