Special Reports

Live by knife, die by bullet

Around Four Corners and up on Jones Hill in Dorchester, Marco Medina was well known. Not exactly well loved. But well known.

Marco used to rob people. Women, specifically. With a knife.

But, live by the sword, die by the sword. Last week, Marco met up with something that had a little more juice than the blade he is said to have waved in the faces of pregnant women going into or coming out of St. Margaret’s Hospital: a 9mm handgun.


Marco’s mother did what she could. She begged him to stay out of trouble. She even offered to pay him to stay indoors and do work around the house. But mothers can only do so much. Sometimes kids aren’t kids anymore, and at 20, Marco was no kid.

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Doing armed robberies in the streets where Marco plied his trade is chump change. Eventually, Marco started doing what any criminally-oriented entrepreneur in his milieu would do. He sold crack.

“Everybody knew Marco was holdin’,” says an acquaintance. “He gave up on that stickup expletive.”

Marco Medina’s demise merited scant notice in the newspapers. Ten days after he died in a large puddle of blood on Bowdoin Street, here’s what those who knew, loved and in some cases despised Marco Medina say went down.

There is a kid named Greg. Greg had a girlfriend. To make a long story short, Marco made time with Greg’s girlfriend while Greg was doing time. When Greg got out of jail, he and Marco had a fight. Given that nobody in their neighborhood fights with their fists anymore, Greg and Marco went at it with knives in a sort of modern, city version of the great sword fights over damsels in Errol Flynn movies. Greg lost and swore vengeance.


Greg, learning from the Crocodile Dundee films he loves so well, got strapped. He told Marco’s dad he was going to get Marco. Word of the threatened hit was so widespread on the street that the cops even tried to arrest Marco to save him.

Alas, as when they responded to the calls up at St. Margaret’s, the cops couldn’t find Marco at the right time.

Marco was many things, but prudent was not among them. And so on June 16 he walked right onto the turf of his enemies, some of whom shot him many, many times.

“After Marco fell down, dude came up and stood over him and kept shooting,” said one teen-ager who claimed to have seen the murder. “It was like the movies.”

The payback on Marco Medina left a mother crying. It also left a neighborhood that called Marco both resident and perpetrator ambivalent, and the cops closing the books on a series of unsolved armed robberies up around St. Margaret’s.


As Marco lay in the middle of Bowdoin Street, three young men ran up to his prone body. A Good Samaritan, who was approaching the scene to help, assumed the young men had similar intentions. They did not. As a dark red puddle widened under Marco’s body, the three young men went through his pockets, looking for the crack that everybody said he carried.

They missed it, however, and scurried off into the night as the sirens got nearer. It was Marco’s last and only victory, a victory as hollow as the lifestyle he led. He hid the dope well.

A few months ago, the Police Department got some positive PR by announcing it would launch a bicycle patrol downtown in May. Cops in Spandex, on bikes, chasing crooks, is a great photo op.

So, here we are, a week away from the July Fourth weekend, and where are the bikes?

They’re in storage.

Two not-so-little words have kept them off the street: collective bargaining.

There was never a shortage of volunteers. There are more cops who want to pedal a beat than there are bikes.

The patrolmen’s union, however, saw the institution of a bike patrol as a change in working conditions and was not going to let it pass without a little negotiating. So the union got the department to kick in a couple more bucks an hour for paid details. The union also got the department to agree to not consider the bikes service units, and therefore not consider them in determining staffing levels.

With all this backroom stuff behind us, the bikes could be on the street as early as next week. Expect photo ops somewhere near Downtown Crossing, whose merchants have donated 10 bikes.

If all goes well, the department plans to offer the service in other commercial districts of the city. Provided, that is, the merchants chip in for the bikes.