Police: Truck driver died from gunshots

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BARTONSVILLE — The shooting death of a Boston truck driver who was delivering produce to Vermont restaurants last Friday has been ruled a homicide, with autopsy results showing he was shot in the neck and head, Vermont State Police said Monday.

Roberto Fonseca-Rivera, 44, of Boston, worked for Katsiroubas Brothers Wholesale Fruit & Produce of Hyde Park, Mass., and he was last seen in Rutland shortly after noon on Friday, making a delivery at the 99 Restaurant in Rutland Town. His truck, with his body inside it, was found parked on the shoulder of Route 103 in Bartonsville, between Lower Bartonsville Road and Williams Road, about 40 miles south, with at least two bullet holes in the driver's side windshield of the truck.

Vermont State Police spokesman Adam Silverman said Fonseca-Rivera had been shot once, while he was in the truck.

Fonseca-Rivera's employer meanwhile described him as a kind and conscientious employee, and said he rehired him after he served his sentence in jail for cocaine trafficking.

Vermont State Police made a public appeal that anyone who had seen the Katsiroubas truck on Friday, between noon and 2 p.m., and between Rutland and Rockingham, contact them. And they asked that businesses, vehicles or individuals that have video of the road at that time should contact them as well.

Police said they believe the shooting took place between 1 and 1:30 p.m., although police weren't called to check on the truck until 5:45 p.m. Friday.

The death of Fonseca-Rivera prompted his employer to post a public statement on social media, praising him for being a kind person and a dedicated worker. In an interview with a Boston television station, owner Ted Katsiroubas said the company was aware of Fonseca-Rivera's conviction in 2018 of cocaine trafficking, and said they re-hired him because he had served his time and was a good worker.

Fonseca-Rivera was convicted and sentenced in November 2018 in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts on cocaine trafficking charges, part of a group of five men who imported cocaine from Puerto Rico through the U.S. mail to Massachusetts. Fonseca-Rivera was sentenced last November to a year and a day.

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"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of our dedicated, kind and reliable co-worker, Roberto Fonseca-Rivera. We learned in the past few hours that Vermont State Police suspect foul play in Roberto's death. We hope the investigation is quick and successful. We are assisting in any way we can. We want justice for Roberto," wrote Ted Katsiroubas for a social media posting.

"Roberto's smiling, outgoing presence always brightened our days. This was a man who would stay after work and help coworkers, repairing their vehicles," he added.

He said the family firm, which has been in business for more than 100 years, was "deeply concerned for the safety and well being of our employees. We are arranging for counselors to be on hand to help employees for as long as they are needed to deal with this tragedy."

He told Boston television station WBZ that he knew of Fonseca-Rivera's drug conviction, and rehired him after he got out of jail.

"Every interaction I had with him was positive, always smiling, shook my hand. One thing that I've been hearing a lot is that he was always in uniform, always on time, very dedicated employee," he added.

"The way that we looked at it was that he had served his time and he left a very positive impression on us before the incident and we felt that in the spirit of the way that we felt that he was, that we were comfortable with bringing him back and we welcomed him back."

Katsiroubas didn't return a call seeking comment on Monday.

Vermont State Police ask anyone with information about the case to call the Westminster barracks, 802-722-4600.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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