The four young women styled one anothers’ hair and painted one anothers’ nails. They remained inseparable even after high school, as they set out on promising career paths. And in a sudden burst of gunfire Sunday night in Dorchester, three were gone.
On Tuesday, the parents of the victims of the Harlem Street shootings recounted the shock and heartbreak they felt when they learned of their daughters’ deaths. But they also shared the memories of three bright lives snuffed out by an unexplained act of violence.
According to relatives of the victims, the four women traveled together in a red sedan to a cookout in Franklin Park Sunday afternoon. At 9:22 p.m., they arrived on Harlem Street, apparently to drop off Sharrice Perkins, who lived there.
Residents heard a burst of gunshots. All four women were struck.
Perkins, 22, a former engineering student who was working as a hotel clerk, died within minutes of being shot.
Kristen Lartey, 22, who graduated from St. John’s University in June and was looking for a job, died almost instantly.
Genevieve Philip, 22, the mother of a 5-year-old girl, was hit at least seven times. She died hours later at Boston Medical Center.
No arrests have been made in the triple slaying. The fourth woman, whose name is being withheld by police, was shot in the leg. She is expected to survive.
The four became a tightknit group in high school at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science in Roxbury.
Perkins studied engineering at Roxbury Community College, but may have found her calling in the hospitality industry.
“She was always interested in diverse cultures; that’s what filled her with purpose,” said Perkins’s mother, Angela Francis.
“She started working at a hotel, at the front desk, and we had been talking about how that line of work could lead to a job that also met her interests,” she added.
Francis arrived home Sunday night in a panic, knowing the gunfire had erupted close to home.
But it was not until she locked eyes with the surviving victim, who was being carried away on a stretcher, that Francis realized her daughter was gravely injured: The surviving victim yelled, “Sharrice, Sharrice!”
“They were beautiful girls,” Francis said.
Then she addressed the as-yet unknown perpetrator of the crime: “You robbed the world of a beautiful person.”
• • •
Lartey was active in youth ministries at Family Life Fellowship church in Hyde Park.
“She was a very focused young lady, would baby-sit for cousins, and had a nail polishing and design business that she ran out of her house,” said her father, Agabus Lartey, the pastor of the church.
“She wanted to work for colleges as a recruiter,” he said. “We’re a very harmless family; we look to help people, feed the homeless.”
Sunday was Agabus Lartey’s birthday, but he knew, by the fresh smell of nail polish, that his daughter was going out with her three friends.
“I knew that she wouldn’t want to come out with me, but I don’t fault her for that,” Lartey said, standing Tuesday on his neatly manicured front lawn in Mattapan.
“She had her life,” he said, “and she was so happy with her friends.”
Lartey said he was watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. He heard of the fatal shooting from a newscast. He left the lights on for his daughter.
“She usually turns them off when she comes home,” he said.
When he woke up Monday morning, the lights were still on.
“I went into her room, and she wasn’t there,” he said. “I had an inkling, I started connecting the dots, and at that moment my door bell rang, and there was a cop, and I knew that she had passed.”
He leaned on his porch rail. He took off his black baseball cap.
“My birthday is the day that my daughter died,” he said.
• • •
Philip, a tall 22-year-old, modeled in local fashion shows. Her five-year plan was to open a beauty salon.
She was scheduled to start classes Tuesday at Empire Beauty School in Boston.
Her mother arrived home from her job Sunday at about 10:30 p.m. The phone rang, and she looked at the number on the caller ID.
“I didn’t recognize the number,” said Philip’s mother, who asked that her name not be published.
“I picked up the phone, and it was the hospital,” she said. “They told me they needed for me to go there.”
There, she learned of her daughter’s death.
Genevieve Philip’s own young daughter does not yet know that her mother is dead.
On Tuesday, the girl crawled down the stairs of the family’s Milton home and peeked around the corner at her grandmother and two aunts, who stood at the front door with somber expressions on their faces.
Said her grandmother: “We’ve just told her that her mother is at the hospital and will be there for a very long time.”