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After rebuffing advances, 4 friends faced gunfire

Victims’ relatives describe killings

It began with simple flirting - four young friends leaving a Dorchester party early Sunday morning when at least one man followed them to their car, trying to get the three women’s phone numbers.

But when they rebuffed the advances, the consequences turned deadly.

Continue reading below

The women’s friend, 19-year-old Anthony Peoples, told the pursuer to leave them alone. Moments later, as the four friends sat in a Nissan Sentra, ready to drive away, someone pulled out a gun and shot into the car. Peoples, a Boston resident, was killed along with Chantal Palmer and Shacora Gaines, both 20, who had come from Brockton for the party. The fourth person, a woman whose name has not been released, was unharmed.

Friends and relatives of the victims described the events leading up to their killings to the Globe. A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation said detectives are investigating that scenario.

“It’s very sad knowing that somebody could lose their lives for not giving out their phone numbers,” said Palmer’s father, Michael. “It’s a devastating situation for all the families around, even the one that did the shooting. Their family will be devastated as well knowing that their child took others’ lives.”

The killings capped a weekend of violence that shattered what had been a relatively quiet March. On Saturday evening, police found the body of Okwudill Onujiogwie, 26, the son of a Codman Square business owner.

Onujiogwie had been fatally shot and slumped in his bed in his Ogden Street apartment in Dorchester when police found him, according to a neighbor and friend.

No arrests have been made in either of the killings, police said.

Yesterday, Michael Palmer said he was hoping to meet with the families of Peoples and Gaines so they could all pray together.

Gaines, the mother of a 1-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl, was studying nursing at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, said her boyfriend, 20-year-old James Bruce

“She was just a beautiful person,” he said. “She never got to go out. It was always school and coming home.”

Peoples, who worked at a Randolph movie theater, liked to rap and would spend a lot of time in the studio, recording music.

“If he didn’t know you, he’d make friends with you,” said his girlfriend, Saunteena Bruce 18.

Chantal Palmer, a Brockton High School graduate, ran track while she was a student and had worked some odd jobs since graduation, but had quit recently so she could take care of her baby. The baby boy yesterday was at the Brockton home of his 20-year-old godmother, Juna Francois.

Francois said Palmer had stopped by her house Saturday night to invite her to the party.

Francois said she declined the invitation because she was too busy.

“The last thing she said was `I love you and see you tomorrow,”‘ said Francois, who held Palmer’s 4-month-old son as he gurgled and smiled. “Why her? It’s not fair.”

Onujiogwie’s friend and neighbor said the young man was a friendly person who had been taking courses at Roxbury Community College. His one vice was playing music too loud and constantly inviting friends over for boisterous get-togethers, she said.

The neighbor, who asked that her name not be released because she is afraid of retaliation, said she heard Onujiogwie in his apartment on Tuesday, but she worried when she did not hear his music later in the week.

On Saturday, she heard a woman screaming. The woman was a friend of Onujiogwie’s who found his body after going inside the apartment to check on him, said the neighbor.

Onujiogwie “needs to be remembered as very gentle, very respectful toward his elders,” said the neighbor.

Onujiogwie’s father, owner of the Codman Square Pharmacy who has been vacationing in Nigeria, is “devastated,” said Festy Johnson, a family friend who manages a realty next to the pharmacy.

“Right now everyone is grieving,” said Johnson. “This is a total shock.”

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