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A big brother, a ‘free spirit’ recalled

Families, friend recount final calls from shooting victims

Ana Cruz, 22, and Felix Garcia, 20, were among three who were fatally shot at a party in Dorchester.

Ana Cruz, 22, and Felix Garcia, 20, were among three who were fatally shot at a party in Dorchester.

Ana Cruz called close friend and neighbor Latrese Farmer at 2:30 Saturday morning to persuade her to go to a house party at 153 Intervale St. in Dorchester, but Farmer declined because she had a fever. She told Cruz, “Have fun for me.”

Felix Garcia called his younger sister, Michelle, at 3:53 a.m. on Saturday to assure her he would be at her middle school graduation later in the day, telling her he “wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Garcia called from the second-floor party.

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By 4:18 a.m., Cruz, 22; Garcia, 20; and Brian Tirado, 23 were fatally shot inside the apartment, police said. It was the second triple homicide in the city since last August, when three women were fatally shot as they sat in a car on Harlem Street in Dorchester, a crime that has not yet been solved.

On Tuesday, Garcia’s two sisters, sitting in the living room of a neighbor’s apartment, spoke about their big brother, saying he was always encouraging them to do their best. Several relatives and friends visited the family inside the apartment complex and stood outside on the sidewalk in front of a makeshift memorial of candles and Garcia’s favorite sweet snack, Reese’s miniature peanut butter cups.

A mile away, at a sparsely furnished second-floor apartment where Cruz lived, Farmer began the task of gathering her friend’s belongings. On Sunday, it was Farmer who handed Cruz’s 3-year-old twin daughters to their godparents, as the confused and crying children pleaded to stay.

“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do; I don’t hear the patter of their feet anymore,” Farmer said, tears coming to her eyes.

The circumstances of Saturday’s shootings remain unclear. Boston police are asking for the public’s help to solve the killings. Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said Sunday that the shootings were probably not random.

Two law enforcement officials have told the Globe that the party had been going on for several hours when at least one gunman walked through the door and began firing.

Relatives and friends of the victims said Tuesday that they have heard a variety of scenarios from people who were at the party, including one in which several gunmen burst into the apartment, turned off the lights, and fired several shots before fleeing. No arrests have been made.

Many residents of the sprawling light-brown building that sits on a slope said they did not hear shots but did see at least a half-dozen people spill out of the building, get in cars parked on Intervale Street, and speed away.

“We don’t know what happened,” said Kristina Acevedo, 20, Garcia’s girlfriend of five years. “The police aren’t telling us anything, and we’re hearing a lot of different stories.”

Acevedo said she last spoke with Garcia as he was heading to the party. She asked him to stay, to “man the stoop” as he often did, sitting on the stairs leading up to his apartment.

Garcia and Tirado were always together, and both men had voracious appetites. “It was like they would call each other whenever they saw food,” Acevedo said.

Garcia earned his GED last year and this month started working over 40 hours a week for W.B. Mason as a stockperson, his family said. He was in the process of applying to Bunker Hill Community College and was thinking about majoring in criminal justice or business management.

He was recently appointed the “building captain” at his apartment complex by a member of the management. Garcia took the responsibility seriously, making sure that the hallways were free of gum or trash and that anything that was broken was reported. He was looking forward to helping organize a block party later this month, his friends said.

Garcia had promised his sister Michelle, 14, a fast-food burger and a milkshake after her graduation.

“We’re going to have to make that happen,” Precious Smith, a neighbor, declared as she sat in her living room and listened to the teenager and Acevedo speak. Garcia’s 17-year-old sister, Bryana, was also there.

On the table, a large photograph of Garcia and another photograph of Tirado stood side-by-side.

Tirado’s family could not be reached for comment.

Ana Cruz has no local family, Farmer said. Cruz arrived from Puerto Rico three years ago and her English was “horrible,” Farmer said.

“But we were her family; anything she needed, all she had to do was knock on any one of these doors,” Farmer said. Cruz was a full-time mother who was a free spirit.

Friday afternoon started with an outdoor barbecue. Cruz spent most of the time chatting with friends. She left for the Venetian Garden restaurant at 11 p.m. Friday with her boyfriend, to go dancing. She called Farmer 3½ hours later, saying they would drop by to pick her up on their way to the after-
party on Intervale Street.

Farmer said that was the routine on many weekends, to go to the Venetian, then to an after-party. The residents at 153 Intervale St. had hosted it on many occasions, Farmer said.

“I’ve been to that apartment before, and I know most of the people who go to the parties. There was never any violence, just people hanging out and having a good time. I don’t understand what happened, but I can say this, that it had nothing to do with Ana. She was just in the wrong place.”

Brian Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com or on Twitter at @globeballou.

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