Sunday was supposed to be a day of soccer, barbecue, and family fun, when many in Mattapan’s Jamaican community crowded onto Orlando Street to raise money for the family of a slain friend.
But just after midnight, the revelry was shattered by gunshots when four men fired several rounds into the crowd, injuring five people, two of them seriously, police said.
The shootings shocked many who live on the quiet cul-de-sac.
“For someone to do something like this is senseless,” said Calvin Bailey, 31, of Mattapan, one of scores who turned out for the Black Star Football Competition Sunday held at Hunt-Almont Park, steps from the shooting scene. After the tournament, Bailey and others remained on Orlando Street well into the night to eat and socialize, as he had done countless times before.
“Nobody’s out here dealing anything, no one tried to rob anything,” he said. “We’re peaceful people.”
Police did not give detailed descriptions of the suspects, nor did they identify the victims. No arrests had been made by early evening, said Officer Nicole Grant, a Boston police spokeswoman.
Witnesses said the gunfire sent scores of revelers scattering down the small street, which at the time of the party was crammed with cars and people.
The victims were being treated at various hospitals.
Among the injured are a 31-year-old woman shot in the abdomen, who was taken to Boston Medical Center with life-threatening injuries; a 23-year-old man who was shot in the eye and was being treated at Carney Hospital; and a 27-year-old man who was shot in the arm.
A fourth victim, who police said was not shot, transported himself to Carney Hospital with a leg wound. The cause of his injury was not immediately clear. One other person suffered a minor injury and was treated at the scene.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino briefly visited the block Monday afternoon and encouraged residents to work with police to identify and arrest the gunmen.
“I know the police around here are real serious about this,” Menino said. “They want to get those guys.”
While many who gathered at the scene said they were thankful that no one was killed, church and community leaders interviewed by phone Monday said they want to avert this kind of violence, including the rise in homicides that so often occurs in the summer months.
Some called for a stronger relationship between officers and the residents they work to protect.
“There needs to be much more close police-community communication,” said Michael Kozu, an organizer for Project R.I.G.H.T., a community group that focuses on Grove Hall.
“I think it’s also a warning sign. . . . It speaks to a need to address the underlying causes that can lead people down a negative path.”
Others said the state’s network of churches is the natural avenue to organize against violence, citing how in the 1990s city clergy worked directly with gang members toward a truce that helped to sharply reduce the murder rate.
More than 20 years on, a similar forum with a wider youth audience is needed, said the Rev. Bruce Wall, pastor of Global Ministries Christian Church in Dorchester.
Together with the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement, Wall and black clergy from across the state are organizing a June 16 antiviolence summit and listening session, where police officers of color, youth workers, and city officials will hear from teenagers who are frequently affected by crime.
“A lot of the young people want to work with officers who look like them,” Wall said.
“But when they go into the rooms, into the forums, they’re working with officers who don’t.”
He said that sometimes city leaders hear from only a small number of youths, and that a broader forum will help create an effective way to approach troubled and at-risk young people.
“If we all just react, we’ll be going from crisis to crisis,” Wall said.
“In the midst of these crises, we should come together and have a forum. Because I don’t want to spend my summer responding to shootings.”