Special Reports

5th slaying stirs fears in Cape Verdeans

Immediately after the shots rang out, Paulo Barros’s car stopped near the intersection of Fox Street and Mt. Ida Road. The 22-year-old man shot dead Monday night was the fifth homicide in Dorchester’s Cape Verdean community this year.

In a three-decker less than 10 feet from where his car came to rest that evening, mourners were gathered at the home of Adilson Barros, 23, who had been shot dead on Bowdoin Street early Saturday. Amadeu Barros, Adilson’s father, said yesterday that he believes the two Barros families are related, but that he is not sure how.

“We were inside, and we heard the shots,” he said yesterday in Cape Verdean Creole. “The older generation, we all grew up together and are all friends, and most of us are related. But this younger generation, they have a lot of problems. They don’t have that same sense of family and friendship that we had.”


A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation said the two killings are believed to be connected, and cited the close timing of the slayings, the similar locations, both victims’ lineage, and the fact that Paulo Barros’s killer appears to have waited outside a nightclub.

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Alarmed community residents are worried that more bloodshed will follow if the culture’s youth are not persuaded to lay down their weapons.

In recent years, community leaders have galvanized to combat escalating intracultural violence, and as a result, activists said, only two of the city’s 75 homicide victims last year were of Cape Verdean descent. But already this year, the city has seen five slayings among Cape Verdeans.

“We’re all devastated by the losses both within and outside the Cape Verdean community,” said Denise Gonsalves, the executive director of Cape Verdean Community UNIDO. “We have 59 murders in the city [two more than at the same time last year], but a tremendous amount of work is being done to prevent violence. We all need to come together to figure out how to stop it, knowing that it’s a small group of individuals that are at the root of the problem.”

In April, 18-year-old Guiliardo Rodrigues’s body was found in the yard of a house on Mt. Ida Road. In May, Luis DoSouto, 25, was shot dead on nearby Hamilton Street as he tried to break up a fight. Later that day, Alex Mendes, 24, the son of antiviolence activist Isaura Mendes, was shot dead on Wendover Street. All of the men were slain near where they grew up, if not on the same street.


Paulo Barros was a lifelong resident of Ridgewood Street in Dorchester. He left home at 5 p.m. Monday, telling his brother he was going for a haircut. Approximately two hours later, Barros’s red Ford Contour was riddled with at least seven bullets as he turned off Mt. Ida Road onto Fox Street, less than half a mile from his house.

Yesterday morning, at least 50 people filled the second-floor home where Paulo Barros grew up. In the hallway by the front door, two women embraced and wailed. “Why did they have to kill him?” one sobbed.

Dallas Braxton-Price, 60, who lives near the intersection where the latest homicide occurred and saw the victim in his car, said the atmosphere outside the home of Adilson Barros was tense all day Monday as throngs of mourners visited Amadeu Barros and his family. “You had groups of three to four men here, seven to eight men there,” she said. “I was sitting on my porch all day and I heard them arguing. The tension was building, and you could feel it.”

But Amadeu Barros said visitors stayed inside the house and were quiet and peaceful. He added that Joao Barros, Paulo’s father, had visited him on Sunday to offer condolences.

Jelson Barros, 20, said his brother Paulo graduated from Jeremiah E. Burke High School and worked as a steward at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel in South Boston. “He was a person who enjoyed making his family laugh. His smile brightened up any room he walked into,” he said. “We lived here our entire life - we played football on the street and raced our bikes. My brother, he didn’t do any harm to anyone.”