The sound of gunfire — “boom, boom, boom!” — erupted on Columbia Road. Residents eating lunch inside their apartments ducked behind furniture. A man sprinted from the scene, his orange polo-style shirt flapping in the wind. A firefighter doing chores at a nearby firehouse rushed to a victim, a man whose white T-shirt was turning red and dripping blood.
Within minutes Thursday afternoon, dozens of police officers were at the scene at Columbia Road and Eastman Street, searching for suspects and ballistic evidence and interviewing shocked residents about what they had seen. No arrests have been made in the brazen shootout between two groups of men in broad daylight.
Two hours after the incident, a longtime resident who lives near the scene of the shootout pointed to blood that painted the top of a steel bench where the wounded man sat as he was being tended to by paramedics. The victim was rushed to Boston Medical Center. His condition is unknown.
“Are they just going to leave that there; don’t they clean it off?’’ the resident asked.
Matthew Akinade shook his head from side to side as he cleaned up shattered glass from his porch. Two bullets struck his house, one that made a neat hole in the vinyl siding outside his living room, and another that shattered a glass storm door and put a dent in his steel front door. The bullets did not travel inside the house, but Akinade said he feels “very fortunate” that neither he nor his tenants were hurt.
The shooting is the latest in a rash of violent incidents in Boston since Aug. 12 that have killed five people and pushed the number of homicides so far this year to 36, two more than at this date last year.
Three young women were fatally shot while sitting in a car on Harlem Street on Aug. 12. About 1,000 mourners attended Sharrice Perkins’ funeral at Morning Star Baptist Church Monday, and Kristen Lartey’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Jubilee Christian Church in Mattapan. The funeral for the third victim, Genevieve Phillip, is scheduled for Tuesday.
Following those homicides and several nonfatal shootings, religious leaders, police, and elected city officials have held meetings with the residents.
Deputy Superintendent William Gross, who attended a community meeting last week at the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that law enforcement and clergy are embarking on a “big push” to reach out to the affected communities, which he said are still healing from the Mattapan Massacre of 2010 that took four lives.
There have been several shootings on Columbia Road since the summer of 2011, punctuated by a double fatal shooting on July 4 last year and the nonfatal shootings of three males two months ago.
Gross said one ongoing priority is to make contact with about 300 people known to police as impact players.
“We want these individuals to know they’re not anonymous to us, but also to say to them, ‘Hey, we’ll work with you to help you out, to give you an alternative.’ ”
Both Gross and the Rev. Jeffrey Brown, executive director of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, a religious-based antiviolence organization, emphasized the need for witnesses.
Gross referred to the department’s website, bpdnews.com, where witnesses can learn how to contact police anonymously through a toll-free call or text.
“The perpetuation of violence occurs when a shooting happens and no one sees anything or hears anything,” Brown said by phone Thursday.
“One of the things we want to make clear to the street is that there is a difference between being a snitch and a witness.”
“Part of the planning is to talk about how we change the game on the part of witness intimidation, to encourage those who see crimes to come forward, because residents are beyond sick and tired of the violence.”