Special Reports

Violence, grief, and disbelief in Dorchester

Wave of shootings, fatal stabbings rock city streets

Troy West loved to draw, capturing family members and inanimate objects on his sketching pad. He wrote poems with such flair that his male friends asked him to pen love letters to their girlfriends so they could pass the sweet words off as their own. And he often spent hours listening to his vast music collection, smooth oldies that reminded him of his days growing up in Dorchester.

It was a 42-year life embedded in the arts, a life that was brutally silenced by at least 25 stab wounds. His body was found Monday on a park bench not far from the home he shared with his niece. Police have not made any arrests in the case.

“I never thought anything like this would happen to one of my children,” Vivian West, 74, said, sitting in her Dorchester apartment yesterday with other grieving relatives, all trying to sort out the details of funeral arrangements and a peace vigil scheduled for last night at King Street Park, where a passerby discovered her son’s body. They were also trying to sort out how such an ending could befall Troy West.


“I’m not able to describe the hurt I feel for my son to die like that, alone,” his mother said. “They treated him like an animal.”

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West’s homicide was the first in a wave of violence this week.

On Wednesday night, another Dorchester man, Sheldon Andrews, 20, was stabbed to death near 343 Geneva Ave.

Later that night, an unidentified man was shot near 30 Algonquin St. He remains in critical condition at Boston Medical Center.

According to police, there were also at least six other nonfatal shootings this week.


Residents of the neighborhoods where the two homicides occurred expressed disbelief.

“How could they, how can someone kill?” asked one woman who lives on Geneva Avenue. She requested that her name be withheld. “The police shut down my street,” she said, shaking her head.

The only sign yesterday of what had happened the previous night in front of the rows of modest triple-decker houses was the name of the victim written on the sidewalk, in red letters, and a shred of police tape that was tied to a chain-link fence.

No arrests have been made in the second homicide or in the shooting later Wednesday night.

West worked as a fork-lift operator and a silk-screener, but recently had to stop working because of several injuries he sustained in car accidents. The first occurred last November or December, when he sustained a hip injury. Then, in January, as he walked with crutches out of his house and across a street, he was hit by a car and thrown several feet in the air. He sustained a severe leg injury that required doctors to insert a steel screw in his ankle, his relatives said. West was collecting disability.


Earlier media reports indicated that West was homeless, but it was later confirmed that he had been living with his niece at the time of his death. West had an apartment at Bowdoin Manor on Bowdoin Street in Beacon Hill, but his family said he moved out because of difficulties with his neighbors. West was waiting to be reassigned to other housing by the Boston Housing Authority, his family said.

Officials with the Pine Street Inn said that West had lived in their transitional housing and had completed a job readiness training program there. Yesterday, his family showed off the certificate he earned.

West was the father of an 18-year-old son and considered himself a stepfather to his longtime girlfriend’s two daughters.

“He took care of them,” said Rosalyn Russell, 39, West’s former girlfriend of six years. “Even after we stopped going out, he always came over and talked to the girls.”

West loved to crack jokes and even tried his hand at freestyle rapping, Russell said. “He was about 5-foot-2, just an inch shorter than me. He called himself ‘Too Short.’”