Turners Falls shooting suspect can be released on $20K bail, judge rules

Gil Viera, right, in Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday with defense attorney Jared Olanoff.

Gil Viera, right, in Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday with defense attorney Jared Olanoff. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Webber, standing, states his case against Gil Viera in Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Webber, standing, states his case against Gil Viera in Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 12-15-2023 3:33 PM

GREENFIELD — The Springfield man accused of shooting a man in Turners Falls during the summer and fleeing the scene can be released on $20,000 bail, a Franklin County Superior Court judge ruled this week.

Gil Viera, 30, of Springfield, had previously been held without the right to bail after pleading not guilty to 11 charges stemming from an alleged incident on 11th Street in Turners Falls on Aug. 29. He had been arraigned in Greenfield District Court following his arrest but his case was transferred to Superior Court due to its severity.

Viera faces single counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a Class A drug, possession of a Class B drug, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, carrying a firearm without a license, disorderly conduct, possession of ammunition without an FID card, possession of a firearm in a felony, assault and battery with a firearm, assault and battery causing serious bodily injury, and withholding evidence from criminal proceedings.

He is accused of shooting a 30-year-old Athol man in the left thigh before fleeing into nearby woods and through the Connecticut River. The alleged victim was transported to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

Viera was arrested as a vehicle passenger near mile marker 13.2 on Interstate 91 southbound in Holyoke later in the day. It was noted in a probable cause statement filed by Joshua Hoffman, a detective sergeant with the Montague Police Department, that Viera’s shorts, shirt, sneakers and the cash on his person were drenched with water, indicating he had crossed the Connecticut River while fleeing.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Webber, who is prosecuting this case, argued in front of Judge Karen Goodwin for Viera to be held without bail due to his strong ties to Florida, which he feels make him a flight risk, and the perceived threat he poses to the community. Webber mentioned Viera recently moved to Massachusetts from Florida, where he legally purchased three firearms that Webber said have since been used in felonies. The gun that was allegedly used in the Aug. 29 incident, he said, has not been recovered and he fears it could be found by a child or another innocent member of the public.

Defense attorney Jared Olanoff previously told the court the gun in question “is not in the community” because it no longer exists, though he did not elaborate. He also previously said his client was born in Springfield, where he lived until his family moved to Florida in his youth.

Viera moved back to Massachusetts in 2021, and Olanoff said his client was temporarily staying with a friend in Turners Falls when the Aug. 29 incident occurred. While delivering his argument this week, Olanoff said his client acted in self-defense after being approached by a man who had been causing problems.

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“I didn’t just make that up,” Olanoff said. “I can tell you Mr. Viera never wanted to fire his firearm that day.”

According to Olanoff, Viera announced he would pull the trigger and purposefully shot the man in the leg as opposed to the head or chest, which likely would have been fatal.

Viera has no criminal record and had a license to carry in Florida. But Webber said Viera did not meet any of the requirements to have that license transferred to Massachusetts.

Olanoff said Viera has a stellar employment record and works as a freight dispatcher. He also said the alleged victim in this case has a lengthy criminal history and faces an assault charge in Greenfield District Court.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.