Family, friends mourn teen fatally shot in Hartford. ‘Our family seeks justice for Julius.’
Julius Rivera was a nephew, cousin and friend who was loved by his family and will be greatly missed.
And those mourning the 18-year-old Plainville man who was fatally shot on Jan. 11, Hartford’s first murder of the year, said he was funny and calm, too.
Rivera’s older sister, Angelique Rivera, who was among those who came out this week to mourn his loss, said her brother “cared deeply about people. And he’s very smart.”
Angelique Rivera joked that while her brother was her “pain in the butt,” he also had a good heart.
What she will miss most about her brother is his “squishyness,” she said, which occurred when she hugged and kissed him.
“He was taller than me. He grew taller than me because I was 16 and he was 11. And he was taller than me. Even then, I’d still grab him and give him a big ol’ hickey. He can’t leave until he gives me a big ole hickey too. So he wouldn’t like to admit it, but that’s what I’ll miss the most,” she said.
As Angelique Rivera spoke, there was an unseen heaviness of sadness in the air on Broad Street as the organization Mothers United Against Violence held a prayer vigil in honor of Julius Rivera.
Rivera died from injuries sustained in a Jan. 11 shooting in Hartford, according to the Hartford Police Department. Hartford Police responded to the 600 block of Broad Street before 10 p.m. that evening for a ShotSpotter activation. Officials found a gunshot victim who was later identified as Rivera.
He was taken to a local hospital but was pronounced dead after 2am the next morning, police said.
According to Aaron Boisvert, Lt. Aaron Boisvert, Rivera’s death was Hartford’s first homicide of 2023. There were 39 homicides in Hartford in 2022, more than any year since 2003 when there were 46.
Mothers United Against Violence founders Rev. Henry Brown and Henrietta Beckman encouraged family and friends of Rivera to keep his memory alive by coming together as a family.
“They thought they got away with it, but they didn’t get away with it. I am encouraged. I believe an arrest is imminent. I don’t think it will take long. So I just want you to put your hat on it … and trust God in this process,” Brown said. “That’s what this is about. You know, we can’t bring Julius back. But we can certainly use his name… to make his legacy come alive. And we can do that by helping each other and by sticking together as a family. “
Beckman offered condolences to the Rivera family on behalf of the organization. She said it pains her every time she hears that another young person has lost their life to gun violence.
“I want you young people to live long, long, prosperous lives. His life was cut too short. He [was] just starting, he’s a baby. We must put an end to this gun violence,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense at all. People kill people for stupid reasons. You have no right to take the life of others. You got us mothers through all this misery and pain. Brothers and sisters, this…must stop.”
Beckman also spoke specifically to the young people in attendance to let them know that if they know someone with a gun, they can take a different path in life than using it to resolve their disputes.
“There are other ways to solve every problem there is. We don’t have to use force. There is too much violence in our city. There is too much violence in our world. And we must learn to love one another. Listen to each other and try to understand. And I’m telling you, just be safe out there on the street,” she said.
Julius Rivera’s family member Beata Bajuk said: “Julius was taken from us by a senseless act of gun violence.
“Our family is demanding justice for Julius by bringing the person(s) responsible for his death. What is done in the dark will always come out,” Bajuk said. “There is much violence in music, film and social media today that many are misdirected, deceived and triggered into. Like a mass psychosis, many just follow the bug in the program, stuck in a matrix of hell.”
Bajuk also said that she believes celebrities need to stop glorifying and attracting violence/dysfunction as she feels this destroys the mindset of youngsters on their journey into adulthood and leaves them mentally and emotionally stalled in development leave behind.
“Families are being torn apart and have to pick up the pieces. The broken system was fed for far too long due to the design. It’s all a domino effect,” Bajuk said.
“Make good decisions instead of bad ones. It touches us all in some form, formed and united – not divided, only then can we free ourselves from this matrix. Life is a precious gift that should not be taken for granted. Let us live in the highest ethics as human beings, not as animals. Be the master of your mind. Don’t let it be the master of your higher self and lead you astray. We love you Julius.”
The Hartford Major Crimes and Crime Scene Divisions are still investigating the shooting. Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact the Hartford Police Department tip line at 860-722-8477.