Grief and fear gripped residents and community leaders after a spate of apparently gang-
related shootings took the lives of four people in Mattapan, Ashmont, and Dorchester between Friday and Monday.
“It scares me,” said Abu Zafar, who manages O’Brien’s Liquor and Market across the street from the Tedeschi convenience store on Dorchester Avenue in Ashmont, where a 22-year-old man was shot to death Sunday night and where Zafar said gunfire is common. “It [could] happen in my store, too. [Guns are] every place; you don’t know who has a gun or not.”
On Rosewood Street in Mattapan, where a young man and woman were gunned down just six hours after the Tedeschi shooting, neighbors peered from behind their doors, most refusing to speak with a reporter.
“The shootings are getting worse,” said one resident, who said she was jarred awake by a volley of gunshots at around 2:45 Monday morning. “People don’t fight with fists anymore, they fight with guns.”
The woman, who declined to give her name, said she has lived on Rosewood Street for about 40 years, but is thinking of moving to escape the violence.
Two days before the shooting in front of Tedeschi, Trevain Keene, 22, of Boston was killed on Callender Street in Dorchester.
City officials have said the four killings may be related and that there may have been prior relationships between the victims and the shooters. Police have not released names of the victims from Sunday and Monday’s shootings, though the mother of the young man killed in front of Tedeschi identified her son as Julien Printemps, 22, and said he had dated the young woman killed hours later on Rosewood Street.
“There is a deep sense of sadness,” said the Rev. Ray Hammond, pastor of Bethel AME Church and chair of Boston’s TenPoint Coalition. “You just hate to see young people wasting their lives and other people’s lives. It’s overwhelming.”
At a press conference Tuesday night, Mayor Martin J. Walsh decried the violence.
“Since Jan. 1, we’ve had nine fatalities in the city of Boston,” he said. “Nine too many. Nine parents have buried their kids, which is nine too many. Four of them are related, we think, through gang relations, which doesn’t make it easier. But we have some work to do in the city of Boston.”
Walsh said shootings in the city are actually down, and police have confiscated 29 guns and made 25 gun-related arrests so far this year. But more must be done, he said. He promised meetings in coming weeks with community leaders;
Hammond said that he and other clergy are scheduled to meet Wednesday with Police Commissioner William Evans to discuss the shootings.
On Tuesday evening, Gloria Printemps, the mother of Julien Printemps, spoke softly as she recalled her son as a good man who had no recent problems with anyone. “All I know is, my son is a kindhearted, loving person,” she said.
He recently worked in a temporary position at UPS during the holidays, she said, and also worked at a shipyard in Quincy.
He had dated the young woman killed on Rosewood Street in the past year, she said, but the two were not involved at the time of their deaths.
Printemps said she hopes the gun violence in the city will stop, “not only for my son, but for all the mothers out there going through this.”
Another woman, who identified herself on the phone as Keene’s mother, asked for privacy while her family grieves. “He was a good kid; he was trying to get his life together,” she said. “Honestly, I wish they would take his name out of the paper. I don’t want him looped in.”
Police have not made any arrests in the killings. However, two teenagers were arraigned Tuesday in connection with another apparently gang-related shooting, this one nonfatal, that occurred Monday at the Bromley Heath development in Jamaica Plain.
The Suffolk district attorney’s office said a 15-year-old from Dorchester and a 17-year-old from Roxbury are facing charges including armed assault with intent to murder after allegedly shooting an 18-year-old man in the chest.
Police have not said whether the nonfatal shooting is related to the four fatal shootings.
Some residents and community leaders said that the city must be more vigilant, must step up police patrols in problem areas, and work more closely with residents to help curb violence before it starts.
“Normally, the Police Department knows that these things are brewing,” said Minister Don Muhammad, Boston representative for the Nation of Islam and minister of Mosque No. 11 in Roxbury. “They should have people go in and try to quell the breach. This is something that used to be successful in this city. If you don’t have good communication between the Police Department and the community, you will be reading about it in the newspaper that somebody got shot.”
Others, however, said that despite this month’s spike in violence, the city is steadily getting shootings and homicides under control.
“We just have to stay with it,” said Hammond. “We’re not going to be discouraged. We’re not going to throw up our hands because some very bad things have happened.”