A Dorchester political activist and advocate for peace fought tears on Sunday as he expressed a willingness to help the person who fatally shot his younger brother on Friday night in the neighborhood.
“I don’t even have any hatred toward the person who has done this to my brother,” said Joao DePina, 35, after identifying his sibling, Michael DePina, 29, as the victim.
“I just want to know why. What did Michael say to you? . . . And then I want to ask him, was it worth it?” Joao DePina said. “I want to ask him if he could find it in his heart to apologize to us, to our family.”
And then in the midst of his incomprehensible grief, DePina said, “I will forgive him, and then I will continue to work with his family to help him out.”
Joao DePina, who worked as field director for state Representative Evandro Carvalho’s recent election campaign, said his younger brother had been living with a longtime girlfriend in Quincy. But for reasons that remained unclear Sunday, he was gunned down on Taft Street Friday about 8:40 p.m.
The younger DePina loved working with his hands and had started his own landscaping business. There had been troubles in the past, struggles with mental health issues and the court system, but Joao DePina said those were not the things that defined his brother.
“I know what Michael was to me, and that’s my brother,” said Joao DePina, who has volunteered on political campaigns and mentored youth through community groups and nonprofits. “I don’t know what Michael did. I don’t care what he did. He didn’t deserve to be gunned down and shot, one bullet to the back of the head.”
A Boston police spokeswoman said Sunday that no arrests had been made in the slaying, and that the motive was under investigation.
Police said at the scene on Friday that residents of Taft Street heard gunshots, and officers found a man, whom Joao DePina identified as his brother, lying on the ground near an overturned motorcycle. Investigators also recovered two guns from the crime scene.
Michael DePina had recently been working on another motorcycle, his brother said on Sunday. “Me and my brothers went to the basement today, only to find that he had taken a motorcycle totally apart and had re-created a new motorcycle,” DePina said. “Because that’s who Michael was. He was very crafty with his hands.”
A memorial of candles and flowers was visible at the shooting scene on Sunday. A woman who sat alone near the remembrance Sunday afternoon described Michael DePina as a “very close friend.”
“He had such a good heart,” said the woman, who declined to give her name.
Isaura Mendes, a Dorchester activist who cofounded an annual peace march that was established in 2000, said she has worked with DePina’s family and spoke to them Saturday.
“It’s very sad,” Mendes said. “We don’t know what to do. These kids live with a lot of pain. I say this all the time. We just don’t know what to do.”
‘We are doing ethnic cleansing to our community, and that is not good.’
Joao DePina issued a call on Sunday for better mental health care for disadvantaged youth, particularly those who are in the custody of the state child welfare agency, as he and his brother were growing up.
He also vowed to continue his efforts to help young people.
“My [call] is to please, please stop killing each other,” he said. “We are doing ethnic cleansing to our community, and that is not good.”Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.