Special Reports

3 shot to death in hub coin jar robbery, drive-by attack, confrontation fatal

Shootings in Boston yesterday claimed the lives of a store clerk in Dorchester, a mother of five in Roxbury and a man gunned down in a drive-by slaying in Jamaica Plain as the hottest day of the year turned into the most


Jean Stranberg, 57, of Quincy, was killed in a liquor store on Bowdoin Street by robbers who made off with a jar of coins collected for Easter Seals. Witnesses said Delores Newberry, 33, was gunned down when she confronted several youths attempting to set fire to her Roxbury home. Police identified the Jamaica Plain victim as Carl Benbow, 30.


Two other shootings and a stabbing left three others wounded in the city last night.

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In the Dorchester slaying, Stranberg’s age, the small sum that she was killed for, and the boldness of the robbers who entered the store about 1 o’clock on a sunny afternoon, found neighbors focusing on the seriousness of their crime problems.

In Roxbury last night about 8:30, Newberry, a mother of five, was shot dead in the middle of Holworthy Street after she chased at least two young men away

from the hallway to her apartment at 77 Holworthy St., which had been set afire, family members said.

Newberry, who was shot once in the chest, was pronounced dead on arrival at Boston City Hospital.


At 7:08 p.m., police found Benbow, of Horan Way, Jamaica Plain, on the sidewalk on Walden Street with a gunshot wound in his chest. Benbow was taken to Boston City Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police said the motive was unknown.

A man who said he was the brother of the victim and who identified himself only as “the terminator” threatened revenge.

“They just erupted guerrilla warfare around here,” he said. “You are going to have to take me in for a homicide.”

The wave of violence sent Mayor Flynn and Police Commissioner Francis M. Roache to scenes of some of the shootings, which brought to 33 the number of

violent deaths in the city this year.


Yesterday afternoon Bowdoin Street merchants, who three months ago buried one of their own -- Casimiro DosSantos, 61, shot to death in a holdup at his Sunshine Variety Store -- gathered speechless as Stranberg, who had worked at O. M. May Liquors for more than a decade, was carried away with a shotgun wound in her temple.

Residents enjoying the midday sun on their porches saw two suspects bolt down Norton Street with police in pursuit.

One suspect -- described by witnesses as a short, plump teen-ager -- disappeared into back yards. He had not been apprehended as of last night. The other, later identified by police as a 17-year-old juvenile, ran into a blue three-decker on Norton Street, climbed to the third floor, then shimmied down a porch rail to the second floor, where he surrendered to police.

The jar of coins smashed on the sidewalk, fanning over the pavement the thousands of pennies and nickels and dimes meant for disabled children.

“This is the beginning of the summer, man,” said Rodney Thomas, who watched the scene from a Norton Street porch. “This is crazy. I’m not going to be here. I’m getting out of Boston for the summer.”

The killing of Stranberg also represented a blow to efforts by merchants to halt the escalation of crime that has included at least four armed robberies on the block since December. Members of the Meetinghouse Hill Business Association met earlier this year with Roache to request greater protection.

“They see anything worth a quarter, they try to get it from you,” said Fausto Barros, owner of the Vulcan Cafe on Bowdoin Street, who in 1988 joined with patrons to wrestle an Uzi machine gun from a robber in his bar.

Denise Morris, president of the business association and owner of Denise’s Hair Gallery, blamed much of the violence on gang members. “We’ve got the most violent gang in the city here, the Vamp Hill Kings,” she said. “They’re here. They’re real bad. We have to do something about them. I just don’t want the neighborhood to dry up. This is a good neighborhood, a lot of different people here.”

Meetinghouse Hill may have the most diverse population of any neighborhood in the city: Hispanics, Cape Verdeans, Jamaicans, other blacks, and large numbers of whites of varied ethnic extractions. Residents say there are few racial problems. Everyone is struggling to keep the neighborhood economically vibrant. But they say the crime problem is crushing their hopes.

“The commissioner promised we’d have a beat patrol at night, a patrol car in the area and an unmarked car across the street,” Morris said. “My question is: why aren’t they here?”

Police officials said the stepped-up patrols were in place yesterday afternoon, and that they were responsible for the arrest of the 17-year-old

suspect in Stranberg’s killing. Roache visited the Norton Street block of Bowdoin Street yesterday afternoon and met with merchants.

“I share their concerns,” Roache said in an interview. “They have to be absolutely frustrated. They want to see walking officers everywhere.”

The commissioner said police are currently drafting a “direct-patrol” plan that would increase the number of foot patrols in high-crime areas this summer.

“I’m a fan of foot patrols,” Roache said. “Since 1968 everyone’s been looking for them. But we don’t have 3,000 police officers like we used to have when we didn’t need them.”

Yesterday, residents remembered Stranberg as a fixture at the neighborhood liquor store and called her the most unlikely of of victims.

“I’ve known her since my grandson was 11 months old and he’ll be 16 in October,” said Pat Calley, who works at the Log School Food Pantry across the street from the liquor store. “She’s a sweetheart and wouldn’t bother a soul. The most she ever asked for was an I.D.”

Meetinghouse Hill neighbors said Stranberg was ill with a nervous condition and would never have challenged a robber. “She was old, you understand,” said Rodney Thomas. “They didn’t have to shoot her.”

Martel Bennett, who owns the blue three-decker on Norton Street where the juvenile suspect was apprehended, said he had just made some purchases at the liquor store and had returned to his porch with four friends when one of the suspects ran into the house.

“He must have panicked with the cops coming,” Bennett said. “The guy tried to run through everybody with the gun. He just ran by, almost knocking us down. He went up to the third floor, then climbed down the porch to the second floor where they arrested him.”

The suspect carried the jar of coins in a paper bag and held a sawed-off shotgun under his jacket, witnesses said. The other suspect veered in different direction.

The juvenile is scheduled to be arraigned on murder charges today in Dorchester District Court, police said.

Meanwhile, merchants and community leaders are preparing for a meeting tomorrow afternoon at Ashley’s Breakfast Shop on Bowdoin Street to discuss the crime problem.

“The mood is fear,” said Joe Carpineto, director of the Log School, a Bowdoin Street community center offering youth programs, day care and a food pantry. “It’s pretty bold when someone pulls off a robbery at 1 in the afternoon.

“The saddest thing is there’s a TV crew here, police all around and the Boston school bus pulls up, kids get out and just walk by. They don’t give it a second thought. It’s a way of life.”

Both Flynn and Roache called for tougher gun control laws.

“I hope this is a very sober reminder to everyone in Boston that we need a national gun policy,” Roache said.

Family members gathered near the scene where Newberry was killed spoke with anger about the killing. Police had to calm down a distraught son and daughter of the victim when they threatened to attack authorities and some members of the media.

“They did lose their mother,” said Deputy Superintendent Willis Saunders, explaining the children’s anger.

“They came to put the house on fire,” said Sharif Newberry, one of the victim’s five children. “She ran out after them.” He said she had picked up a pitchfork in the yard and “when she got in the street they shot her right here.” He pointed near the heart.

Sharif Newberry said he saw two males running away from the scene after they shot his mother. He said he believes he knows the suspects.

Neighbors said they did not know Newberry very well, because she had just moved to the neighborhood about eight months ago. Residents described the street as somewhat violent.

“Somebody was shooting around here earlier about 6 p.m.,” said a man who lives next door.

Across town on Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester, the death of Newberry hit hard.

“Oh my God. Oh Lord,” cried Newberry’s mother, Willie Mae. Neighbors tried to console her as she stood in the hallway.

Willie Mae Newberry said her daughter and family had lived with her until they found the apartment in Roxbury.

“She always said it was a quiet area,” the mother said.

She said her grandchildren lost their father, Percy Gandy, to violence last summer. Newberry said Gandy was shot in the heart in the Orchard Park housing complex.

Death by gunfire has struck more than twice in this family. In 1987, she said, her youngest daughter, Willie Ann, was shot and killed by her boyfriend on Wainwright Street in Dorchester. Willie Ann left behind three children. Newberry is raising two.

Delores Newberry was 5 when her parents moved from Georgia to Boston. She attended the Jeremiah Burke High School and she worked until recently at a local Mariott Hotel.

The last time the mother spoke to her daughter was last Wednesday.

“We talked and she sounded good. She spoke of no problems,” Newberry’s mother said.

Besides yesterday’s three homicides, police also responded to other shootings and a stabbing.

About 9:45 p.m., Stanley Kelly, 31, of Alwyn Road in Dorchester, was shot twice as he stood near 510 Washington St. in the Codman Square area, according to Detectives Jack Parlon and Brian O’Rourke.

Parlon said Kelly was taken to Boston City Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition with gunshot wounds to the chest and back.

The detectives believe Kelly was using the telephone when someone shot him and raced from the scene on foot.

The motive for the shooting was unknown and no arrests had been made last night.

Shortly after 7:04 p.m., police responded to the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Evelyn Street in Dorchester, where two males had been shot.

Ernesto Morrison, age 17, of Norfolk Street, Dorchester, was taken to Boston City Hospital suffering from a gunshot wound to the left thigh. The second victim, Nathaniel Chaney, 29, of Clarkwood Street, Dorchester, was also taken to Boston City Hospital, suffering from a gunshot wound to the left ankle.

Police said they have no motive for the shootings and no suspects.

Police spokesman Thomas Santry said, “They didn’t know if they were shot by someone from across the street or whether it was a driveby.”

A short while later, Paula Silverstein, 25, of Peabody was taken to Boston City Hospital with five stab wounds. Police said she had been stabbed in the abdomen, chest and face at the corner of Harrison Avenue and Essex Street in the Combat Zone. Another woman, Stacey Sylvia of Roxbury, was arrested in connection with the stabbing.

MEMO: Efrain Hernandez Jr. of the Globe staff contributed to this