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Boy, 14, shot dead as New Year begins; Police head rips lack of witness cooperation

The New Year was not even six hours old when 14-year-old Jason Fernandes was shot dead outside his grandmother’s house in Dorchester yesterday.

The eighth-grader at South Junior High School in Brockton, Boston’s first homicide victim of the year, was one of five people shot in three separate attacks, all of which occurred within a few blocks of one another in the span of 20 minutes, police said.

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Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis vowed yesterday to flood the neighborhood, which has been scarred by gun violence, with extra police patrols. He expressed outrage at the lack of cooperation from witnesses.

“It really is astonishing to me that a 14-year-old has been murdered and individuals who can help identify the person responsible have been unwilling to provide us with information,” Davis said at an afternoon press conference at police headquarters.

Davis said there had been no arrests in the attacks, which appeared to be unconnected.

He said Fernandes and an 18-year-old, identified by relatives as Fernandes’s cousin, “Baby” Rezendes, were gunned down just before 5:45 a.m. after a dispute erupted at a house party on Clarkson Street.

Elisa Fernandes, 30, Jason Fernandes’s sister and also his guardian since he was 7, said she and her brother had just left a family reunion at their grandmother’s house when she heard three gunshots. Then, she saw Jason Fernandes and Rezendes on the ground.

Police said both victims were shot multiple times. Rezendes, who was in critical condition yesterday, was expected to survive, police said. But Jason Fernandes died shortly after the shooting.

“He was a good kid,” Elisa Fernandes said of her brother, in a telephone interview yesterday. “He didn’t even want to come to Boston. I should have never brought him here.”

She said their parents have been living in Cape Verde since Jason Fernandes was 7.

“All I know is he’s a quiet kid,” Elisa Fernandes said. “He doesn’t like partying a lot, and even when I do little family things with myself, he just stays in his room.”

The slaying, in a neighborhood that absorbed much of Boston’s violence last year, rocked residents who were just waking up to the New Year yesterday.

It came just after the conclusion of one of the city’s bloodiest years in a decade and a little more than 12 hours after the final homicide victim of 2006 was shot near South Station. The 74 slayings recorded in Boston last year were one shy of the total in 2005.

Yesterday, relatives of the year’s first homicide victim gathered at the grandmother’s home on Clarkson Street, where a woman walked up and down the street in a cold rain, yelling and crying out, “Jason! Jason!”

Steven Drayton, a Brockton resident and director of youth services at Dorchester Youth Collaborative, said parents from the neighborhood, which had been peaceful in recent months, were calling him yesterday to talk about the shooting.

“It was a beautiful day until that happened,” Drayton said in a telephone interview. “It’s been quiet and that’s why everyone was really upset. For that to happen, at the crack of dawn - can’t we just go through the day without anything happening?”

Oslin Mayhew, who lives on Hamilton Street, about three houses away from the shooting, also was unnerved.

“Things like this shouldn’t happen,” said Mayhew, 51, a soccer coach at the Dorchester Youth Collaborative. “Anytime somebody dies, there are always questions to be asked. Why did this happen?”

One person who had been at the party on Clarkson Street said he did not recall any dispute.

“In the house, we didn’t have any trouble, but outside I didn’t see anything,” said Candido Fernandes, who identified himself as a family friend.

Davis said he was troubled that when officers showed up at the house on Clarkson Street just after the slaying, they were told to leave. “They will not allow us in the house, and they will not speak to us,” Davis said. “We have been stonewalled.”

True See Allah, a minister of the Nation of Islam at Mohammed’s Mosque Number 11 in Roxbury, said he was not surprised to learn witnesses were uncooperative.

“The police don’t share a lot of information, and then the community is just playing deaf, dumb, and blind to what they know is wrong,” Allah said by phone. “There is a lot of fault that goes around, and everyone needs to take a piece of it.”

Speaking at City Hall yesterday, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said, “Somebody saw something. We need help ... There’s terrorism right in the middle of our streets today.”

The violence began at 5:22 a.m., when two men were shot and wounded in a house on Glendale Street. The men, one in his 60s and the other in his 20s, were shot after a dispute erupted at a party at the house, police said. Both victims, whom police did not identify, were expected to survive.

At 5:43 a.m., a 19-year-old man walked into Boston Medical Center with a gunshot wound to his toe. The victim, whom police did not name, told authorities he had been walking on Quincy Street when an unknown assailant shot him and fled in a car on Bowdoin Street.

Two minutes later, police responded to the Clarkson Street shootings.

Jason Fernandes was the second 14-year-old to be fatally shot in Boston in recent weeks. Emmanuel B. Saintil of Mattapan was shot in the chest three days before Christmas on Cummins Highway in Roslindale. He was walking home with his 13-year-old friend, who also was shot but survived.

Davis vowed a “strong and coordinated response, in our ceaseless efforts to end gun violence in our neighborhoods.”

That was welcome news to residents such as Mayhew. “I just wish for changes, changes that will come quick,” he said.

Staff writers Maria Cramer and Donovan Slack contributed to this report. Daniel can be reached at mdaniel@globe.com, Levenson at mlevenson@globe.com.
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