Facebook post sparked New Bedford fight that ended in deadly shooting
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NEW BEDFORD — A derogatory comment on Facebook sparked a chain of events that ended in the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Michael Pina on a South End street corner last month, prosecutors said.
Authorities did not say who posted the comment — it was subsequently deleted online — or exactly what it said, but it prompted two women, current and ex-girlfriends of Pina’s friend Jason Denison, to make plans to fight each other.
On Thursday, prosecutors charged Flores and Denison with murder under a joint venture theory. On Dec. 2, Denison allegedly fired at Flores, who authorities said fired three shots in return, missing Denison but striking Pina, who died four days later at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“This was a senseless murder,” said New Bedford police Detective Capt. Steven Vicente.
Defense attorney Frank Camera said Friday that Flores acted in self defense, and while saying it was “unfortunate” that Pina was shot, Camera added that Pina chose to be with Denison during the altercation.
Camera also noted that Flores — who prosecutors labeled a flight risk — turned himself in to New Bedford police on Thursday.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 2, after the comment was posted on Facebook, Denison’s girlfriend and his ex-girlfriend, who is also the mother of his child, agreed to meet for a fistfight, prosecutors said.
The women and their friends — Pina, Flores and Denison included — knew each other and grew up together in New Bedford. The women first planned to fight at Buttonwood Park but decided to switch locations to the South End, prosecutors said.
“It was a simple fistfight that escalated into a gunfight,” Hourihan said.
Just before 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 2, Denison’s ex-girlfriend arrived with Flores and at least two other people at 363 Dartmouth St., a triple-decker where Denison was staying with his new girlfriend, Pina and another woman, according to court documents.
The two opposing groups began yelling and screaming at each other. As a crowd gathered on the street, Denison and Pina allegedly emerged from the tenement’s first- floor apartment. Police said Denison was armed with a 9 mm handgun.
Denison allegedly chased after Flores and another man, and fired at them. Hourihan said police later recovered a 9-mm shell casing and projectile that struck a house at the corner of Dartmouth and Matthew streets.
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