Denied entrance just after midnight into Gigi’s Palace, a popular neighborhood bar that he frequented, Miguel Perez stood outside in the drizzle. Moments later, the sound of several gunshots echoed off the storefronts along Bowdoin Street in Dorchester, and Perez, 22, crumpled to the wet sidewalk.
A man who identified himself only as Kane, said he rushed to his window and witnessed his friend fall early yesterday morning, and saw a figure in dark clothing flee the scene.
A block away, Perez’s brother, Isaac Gaskins, 21, arose from bed to answer his cellphone. A friend told him someone had been shot in front of the bar, and Gaskins, thinking the victim was probably someone he knew, rushed to the scene.
“It was my brother, that was my brother,” Gaskins said yesterday afternoon, the edges of his eyes red and watery.
Police released few details yesterday, but according to the bar’s manager and a close friend of the bar’s owner, Andy Barros, Perez was turned away because Barros thought he might be connected to an altercation that led to a shooting inside the bar two weeks earlier.
“Andy stopped him and told him he didn’t want him in the bar because he was trouble,” said Joao DePina, a peace activist in the heavily Cape Verdean neighborhood. DePina said he arrived at the bar while Perez’s body was still on the sidewalk, covered by a sheet. Yesterday afternoon, the bar’s manager, who declined to give his name, said DePina’s account of the encounter between Barros and Perez was accurate.
Another of Perez’s brothers, who came to the scene yesterday morning, said he had talked with Perez by cellphone about 30 minutes before the shooting. “We were just chatting. I believe he was outside the bar because I didn’t hear any loud noise,” said the brother, who asked that his name not be used.
Elaine Driscoll, a police spokeswoman, declined to speculate on a motive, saying only, “Investigators have been working throughout the night, and at this point in time, to focus on any one motive would compromise the investigation.”
Police said they responded to a emergency call about 12:56 a.m. and found Perez, who had been shot in the head, dead at the scene.
The shooting occurred at the same location where last October, almost exactly a year ago, Andy Barros’s cousin, Adilson Barros, was gunned down as he tried to make his way into the bar to attend a family gathering. That Oct. 15 killing remains unsolved. Andy Barros took over Gigi’s Palace after his father, Adriano, known as Gigi, was fatally shot in 1992 at another family owned business, Gigi’s liquor store on Harvard Street in Dorchester.
“There has been a lot of tragedy to happen to them, and it’s especially hard because they are such a hard-working family,” DePina said.
Andy Barros had tried for months to get a police detail at the bar, he said, but was unsuccessful.
“He knew that it was a matter of time before something like this was going to happen,” said DePina, who has been a fervent community activist, leading peace parades and meetings with neighborhood residents.
Yesterday morning a makeshift memorial was set up on the sidewalk by Perez’s family and friends, who called him “Tricks” or “Tito.” The flames from seven candles flickered in the wind, and mourners took turns signing a white poster board taped to the wall of a laundromat next to the bar.
By afternoon, about a dozen mourners, mostly teenagers and young adults, gathered at the spot.
Perez was described by his family as a man quick to smile and who loved being with his friends. The family moved to the Boston area from New York, and Perez lived in Salem for about five years before relocating about a year ago to Dorchester. Perez recently moved out of the home he shared with his family and moved in with his girlfriend and their 1-year-old daughter, his brothers said.
When he arrived in Dorchester last year, Perez started visiting Gigi’s Palace, and soon became a regular.
“That was the place he’d be at every Friday night,” Gaskins said.
Yesterday when he arrived at the memorial, Gaskins poured beer from a 40-ounce bottle onto the sidewalk and placed the bottle near the candles. Soon another empty bottle was placed next to it.
Inside the bar, the manager informed several patrons about the shooting. “Oh no, not another!” said a customer.