SPRINGFIELD — Mayor Domenic J. Sarno has one word for anyone who wants to go exploring in the mudflats created by the recent drawdown of Watershops Ponds.
That word is don’t.
Sarno at his weekly coronavirus update in City Hall took note of the Fire Department’s rescue Sunday of a man stuck chest-deep in the Watershops Pond mud. He said it was fortunate it ended without anyone being hurt, but it was galling because it was so avoidable.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Sarno said. “Stay off of Watershops Ponds.”
With the police and fire departments dealing with personnel shortages because of COVID-19 absences, incidents like the Sunday rescue cause unnecessary strain on public safety, he said.
The city police and fire departments are each dealing with personnel shortages as a result of the coronavirus, and Police Commissioner Cheryl C. Clapprood and Fire Commissioner Bernard J. Calvi each reported busy weekends.
The Police Department has 26 officers who are out of work after testing positive, and another 13 who are out while they await test results. Eight firefighters out with COVID-19, and another six who are out while awaiting test results, officials said. In addition, five members of the police academy class have either tested positive or were exposed to someone who has.
Clapprood said police have responded to four shootings, resulting in one dead and four people injured between Friday and early Monday. Many of the suspects being looked at by police have previously been arrested on other charges and released from custody by the courts, she said.
Calvi said the fire department spent 4 1/2 hours Sunday morning and afternoon rescuing a man who walked out on the mud at Watershops Pond and then promptly sank up to his chest.
The rescue needed a combined 75 hours of manpower and tied up two engine companies, two ladder trucks and the rescue squad. Firefighters used 30 sheets of plywood, six ladders and a rescue sled to be able to retrieve the man, and then spent time recovering and cleaning the equipment used in the rescue, he said.
It was fortunate someone saw the man and called for help as early in the day as they did, Calvi said. A nighttime rescue would have taken longer, he said.
Clapprood said police were busy this weekend investigating multiple shootings.
One man died and another was injured in a Friday night shooting on Keith Street.
Clapprood said the injured man is not cooperating with police about who shot them.
On Saturday morning, a woman was seriously injured in a Warrington Street shooting that police believe was the result of a domestic dispute. A suspect has been identified and an arrest warrant issued but as of Monday morning remains at large, she said.
On Sunday morning, one man was shot on Fort Pleasant Street in an incident that Clapprood called “gang and drug related.”
The fourth shooting occurred at around 12:30 a.m. Monday when a woman was shot while in her car on Page Boulevard, Clapprood said.
At the time of the shooting, she was in the car with a man known to police of “a long history of firearm charges,” she said. Detectives believe the man was the target, not the woman.
She said police continue to investigate the four shootings but are finding difficulty with finding cooperative witnesses.
Many of the suspects in each of the cases are what Clapprood and Sarno term as “repeat, violent offenders,” or people who have previously been arrested and are then released on bail by the courts.
“None of the names who are involved are new to us,” Clapprood said.
The names of any suspects in the shooting were not disclosed to the press.
Sarno and Clapprood have repeatedly over the last several months chided the courts for allowing people charged with violent crimes to be released on bail.
“This is the same old song, same old dance,” Sarno said Monday. “What does it take to keep repeat violent offenders off the street.”