City leaders called on the public to help them track down the perpetrator of Sunday’s shooting of four women in a parked vehicle in Dorchester, as a third victim in the attack died Monday.
Following what some veteran police officers called the worst act of violence against women in recent memory, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said the public must help solve the crimes.
“This whole cycle of violence, why does it happen? Where did the gun come from?” he said. The shooters, he said, “have no regard for other people’s lives.”
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation said that detectives believe at least one gunman approached the women’s car and fired into the windows.
Two of the women died Sunday night, and the third Monday afternoon. The fourth was expected to survive the attack, which came in a weekend of bloodshed that left four others wounded from gunshots and another man dead in unrelated shootings.
Near the site of the Sunday night shooting in Dorchester, neighbors mourned the death of Sharrice Perkins, 22, who was raised on Harlem Street, a one-block road where, as a child, she jumped rope nearly every day. She went on to compete in national jump rope contests and, with her mother as her coach, her team won the state championship in double-dutch.
The same neighbors who watched her grow up looked on in horror Sunday night as she lay, fatally shot, on the street where she once skipped rope.
Neighborhood violence is “the worst it’s ever been,” said Milton Roye, who has lived on Harlem Street since 1958 and said he saw Perkins lying on the street, still alive.
Perkins, an engineering student at Roxbury Community College, was living with her three brothers on Harlem Street. Her father, Steve Perkins, came Monday to see where his daughter died.
“She was a beautiful girl,” he said, sobbing. “I love her. I miss her. I miss my daughter so much.’’
Commissioner Edward F. Davis said that police are looking into several scenarios that might have led to the killings on Harlem Street. One theory is that the shootings were gang-related, Davis said, but declined to elaborate. Police did not release the names of any of the Harlem Street victims; Perkins was identified by her family.
“We have several theories that we can’t get into,” Davis said. “There is no indication at this point in time that it’s random.”
But authorities struggled to understand who would commit such a crime.
“I’m not sure there is any kind of motive that would explain or justify the actions that claimed the lives of the women last night,” said Mark Lee, deputy chief of the homicide unit at Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office.
One major clue came from one of several surveillance cameras police installed in parts of the city earlier this summer. The camera caught a picture of a white sport utility vehicle with a black top, halogen lamps, and fog lamps. Police are trying to enhance photos to pull up a license plate and determine the make and model of the SUV, which was seen in the area of Harlem Street at the time of the shooting.
“It’s a very unique vehicle; this vehicle is wanted in questioning,” Davis said. “This is a horrendous incident. We are doing every thing we can . . . to find the individuals who are responsible for this case.”
Police were also investigating the killing of Jemald Allen, 34, who was at a party on Canterbury Street in Roslindale early Sunday morning with three other men when they were shot. The other men survived.
Allen was once charged with the August 2004 killing of William “Spill” Saladin, 20, of Dorchester, whose slaying was thought to be the outcome of a feud between gangs from Franklin Hill and Franklin Field. A jury acquitted Allen in 2007.
Allen and two other men were also charged in the Sept. 4, 2004, killings of Angelo Henderson, Jaison Jenkins, and Anthony Williams, who were shot as they sat in a parked minivan in Dorchester. Last year, Suffolk prosecutors were forced to drop charges against Allen and his codefendants, when two key prosecution witnesses died.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of Allen’s death said that it does not appear to be connected to the previous cases. It was not clear whether Allen or someone else at the party was the intended target of the gunfire.
The driveway of the house in Roslindale where the shootings took place remained blocked with police tape.
Salvatore De Lorenzo, a 72-year-old retired truck driver, said people on the street usually get along. “I’ve been here 50 years,” said De Lorenzo. “Never anything like this.”
Another person was shot Sunday night in the area of 156 Columbia Road in Dorchester, but survived. Police said the killings brought the number of homicides in the city to 34, the same as at this time last year.
On Harlem Street, neighbors and relatives shared memories of Perkins, a talented cook and energetic woman who loved to keep busy and came from a prominent Dorchester family. The Anthony Perkins Community Center on Talbot Avenue was named after her uncle, who died of cancer in 1993 and was known for his volunteer work around the city.
Perkins’s childhood jump rope competition was documented in a Globe interview in 2007, in the run-up to the American Double Dutch League World Invitational Championships in South Carolina. “We like to have fun,” said Perkins, then 17. “We have to remind ourselves it’s not the end of the world if we don’t win.”
Sharrice Perkins’s older brother, Steve Perkins Jr., said he would try not to regret the last time he spoke with his only sister. “We had a little disagreement,” he said. “That’s what hurts the most. I didn’t get a chance to say I’m sorry and make up.”