NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — A New Bedford man accused of murdering a Fall River man in a Dartmouth parking lot over the weekend was allegedly meeting him to buy drugs, according to prosecutors with the Bristol County District Attorney’s office.
Robert Rose Jr., 48, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of 37-year-old Joseph Tavares. He’s accused of shooting Tavares multiple times inside a car in the parking lot of the Regency Hotel.
A night manager at the hotel found Tavares in the car with multiple gunshot wounds Saturday night.
“It’s another pointless, drug-related killing,” District Attorney Thomas Quinn told reporters. “Drug dealing and drug transactions sadly often lead to violence.”
Deputy District Attorney William McCauley said in New Bedford District Court on Friday that video surveillance and text message evidence helped police identify Rose as the suspect.
McCauley said Rose and Tavares made plans via text message to meet in the parking lot so Rose could purchase drugs from Tavares around 10:30 p.m. Police were able to track Rose’s movements through surveillance footage from various businesses including a nearby department store, where they identified what he was wearing and what car he was driving.
Surveillance video at the hotel then allegedly showed Rose arriving on foot and climbing into Tavares’ car. Guests in a nearby hotel room said they heard an argument and broken glass.
McCauley said Rose shot Tavares three times at close range from inside the car, striking him in the head and neck. He then allegedly got out of the car, walked over to the driver’s side and shot him again.
McCauley said the motivation appeared to be related to drugs and money. After police called him in for an interview, Rose allegedly admitted he was “broke” and owed money to Tavares. He denied actually meeting with Tavares that night, and told police he lost his phone and the clothing he was wearing that night.
Police have recovered Tavares’ car and are processing it for evidence, according to prosecutors. A large amount of cash and drugs were found inside the car.
“Many cases start as a robbery and become incomplete,” McCauley posited to the judge.
Rose’s defense attorney, James Murphy, argued that the evidence against Rose was “flashy,” but did not establish he was the person who killed Tavares. He said the description of his hooded sweatshirt and dark clothing from various surveillance cameras was too vague, and said the police report did not indicate a make, model or license plate on the car, just describing it as “white.”
Judge James McGovern ordered Rose to be held without bail. Rose is also charged with one count of misleading police.
McGovern granted a motion to seal the court file, including the police report, because the case is still under investigation.
Members of both Rose and Tavares’ families were in court for the arraignment, becoming emotional as the facts were read. One family member stormed out, calling Rose a “piece of [expletive],” and the families shouted at each other outside the courthouse.
Tavares’ family members declined to speak to Eyewitness News about him outside court.