CHELSEA — Gunshots rang out just before 4 a.m. Monday, and seconds later came the sound of someone running down the street. When police arrived, they made a grisly discovery: a man and woman dead in a vehicle that had jumped the curb on Crescent Avenue.
The Suffolk district attorney’s office identified the victims as Zouaoui Dani-El-Kebir, 52, and Karima El-Hakim, 38, both of Everett. They had been shot in the area of the head. One official said investigators believe the attack was not random.
Residents of the neighborhood stood on street corners with arms folded Monday morning, watching grimly as police inspected the car, still in the road in front of 111 Crescent Ave., its driver-side door hanging open and the window apparently blown out. Broken glass was strewn in the middle of Parker Street about 40 feet away.
Dani-El-Kebir was working the overnight shift as a livery driver for East Boston Tunnel Taxi, as he did almost every night, when he was shot, said his brother, Abdelkader Dani-El-Kebir, 56, from his home in Revere.
“I love my brother; I have one brother,” he said, his voice ragged with grief as he sat surrounded by friends. Outside, cabs from companies across the city arrived one after another as the drivers came to pay their respects. “He’s the guy. Everyone loves him. I don’t know what has happened to him.”
He said he did not know El-Hakim; her family could not be reached Monday night.
Abdelkader Dani-El-Kebir said he got a call Monday morning from Tunnel Taxi, saying his brother had been in an accident.
When he pulled up at Crescent Avenue, police kept him back about 200 feet, but as he frantically tried to describe his brother to a police officer, he caught sight of the body, slumped in the car.
“I see his body, my brother! I saw him far away,” he said, his voice breaking. A friend rubbed his back as he cried, his face buried in his hands.
He was close with Zouaoui, he said. His younger brother had come to America a few years before him in the late 1980s, married an American woman, and become a US citizen. He and his wife are separated, said Abdelkader, but remain friends. Abdelkader, who drives a taxi for Top Cab, said that every day, he cooked dinner for his own family and extra for Zouaoui.
“My brother is a hard worker,” he said. “I take him food, every night; 9 o’clock, I drop off his dinner. For 20 years, I take food to my brother.”
Zouaoui was close, too, with Abdelkader’s two sons in America.
Employees at Tunnel Taxi confirmed that Dani-El-Kebir had driven for the company, and had gone by the nickname Danny.
However, a manager declined to answer questions about whether he was working when he was shot.
The early morning killings were the second and third homicides this year in Chelsea, police said. In March, a 21-year-old man was shot to death in a gang-related killing. In 2012, Chelsea had two homicides, both just a few blocks away from where Monday’s killing occurred. Police do not believe the killings are related.
“This place is not safe anymore,” said Wenling Huang, 55, who lives on Parker Street.
He has grown used to gunshots, he said, and rowdy people out on the streets late at night. “People have to speak out, to hope that something can be done, to clean up this street.”
One Parker Street resident who asked not to be identified because of the seriousness of the crime said that at 3:47 a.m., she heard two gunshots and then the sound of someone running past her home. Just after 4 a.m., she said, police arrived. She said she fears for her children, before nervously stepping back inside her home and shutting the door.
City Manager Jay Ash said that despite Monday’s violence, the neighborhood is “a pretty stable area.”
“Perhaps their reflection is about a house or two,” said Ash, who said it is natural for people to be upset and jumpy after a violent act. “I don’t think there is a particular problem in that neighborhood.”
Regina Petricca, 79, who has lived in Chelsea her whole life, said she was not so sure.
“Up until now, I’ve always said it’s getting better. Since all these shootings, I don’t know,” she said. “Terrible, terrible, I feel terrible.
“I put it on Facebook: try to remember the mother and father of these people . . . someone’s crying.”