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Trauma compounded on trauma: Boston suffers violent week ahead of July Fourth

A man passed the scene on Mount Pleasant Avenue in Roxbury where a 15-year-old male was shot and killed. The teen was one of three people shot on Mount Pleasant around 10 p.m. Thursday. The conditions of the other two victims were not known.
A man passed the scene on Mount Pleasant Avenue in Roxbury where a 15-year-old male was shot and killed. The teen was one of three people shot on Mount Pleasant around 10 p.m. Thursday. The conditions of the other two victims were not known.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

A week of deadly violence and unrelenting trauma has shaken city neighborhoods and communities already shouldering a disproportionate burden of grief.

The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately hit communities of color, taking lives and erasing jobs. Black Americans have been killed by police, spurring on Black Lives Matter protests and renewing calls to end systemic racism.

And now, some Boston residents have faced yet more echoing tragedy. From June 26 through Friday afternoon, the city saw four homicides, 13 nonfatal shootings, and at least 10 nonfatal stabbings — days of violence in communities already wrestling with grief.

“It is yet another illustration of how much pain our community is in,” said Boston City Council President Kim Janey. “The violence is a symptom of that pain, and that begets more trauma, and this is on top of COVID. It’s on top of nonstop fireworks. It’s on top of our Black Lives Matter movement and the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and countless others.”

Janey lives just streets away from the spot where a 15-year-old was fatally shot on Mount Pleasant Avenue in Roxbury on Thursday night.

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His death was the fourth homicide in Boston this week — the third in just 24 hours. The youth, whom officials have not identified, was one of three people shot on Mount Pleasant at about 10 p.m. Thursday; he died after he was taken to a local hospital.

Just a couple of hours earlier, at about 8:15 p.m., a man, identified by prosecutors Friday as 22-year-old Justin Cannady, was fatally shot at 42 Hosmer St. in Mattapan.

Rafael Santos Santiago, 35, was arrested at the scene, and he has been charged with murder, unlawful possession of a firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins’s office.

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Earlier on Thursday, at about 12:15 a.m., 45-year-old Rashawn Washington-Clark was fatally shot in Dorchester. And on Tuesday night, 19-year-old Tierece G. Wiley, of Roxbury, was fatally shot near 14 Circuit St. in Roxbury. Three other men were also shot there.

“My heart’s breaking,” Janey said.

Violence also rang out elsewhere. Four people were shot Thursday in Somerville; all were in stable condition by Friday morning, according to Mayor Joseph Curtatone. Cambridge police were investigating a separate shooting Thursday night as well.

And in Braintree on Friday evening, a 15-year-old girl was shot at South Shore Plaza, triggering a frightening lockdown and search. Police said the victim, whose injuries were not life-threatening, was a bystander when two groups began fighting inside the mall.

Shoppers sheltered in stores for more than an hour, posting panicked messages to Twitter. Two suspects were quickly taken into custody on Granite Street near the mall.


Rollins said in a statement Friday that the violence this week has “inflicted immeasurable trauma and harm” on multiple communities. She said her office is offering resources to anyone who needs help, including those who were injured and families whose loved ones were killed.

“This weekend, families and communities will gather to celebrate our nation and its commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” she wrote. “We must not allow violence to threaten the values that we strive to achieve or the lives of loved ones and neighbors we cherish. Acts of violence have no place in Suffolk County, and my Office will work diligently with our partners in law enforcement and the community to hold accountable those who would take a life and scar the lives of so many others in our community.”

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Residents in Roxbury and Mattapan Friday said the violence has become their new normal. “This happens all the time,” said one longtime resident of Roxbury, who asked not to be identified.

The area around Mount Pleasant Avenue was quiet and peaceful Friday morning following the shootings the night before.

“People who live here are tired of it,” the resident said. “It’s peaceful in the morning sometimes, but I stay inside at night.”

Angel Rodriguez, who lives on Mount Pleasant Avenue, said he and his mother were watching television Thursday night when the teenager was shot. They heard a mix of fireworks and gunshots, but could barely tell the two apart.

“It used to be so bad,” he said. “Even now, things like this still happen.”

A resident of Forest Street, near Nubian Square, said the shootings make him fear for his own life and worry about the safety of his family.

“I have kids, I have a family,” said the resident, who asked not to be named. “Our roots are in this neighborhood, with these people, but killing like this hurts.”

In Mattapan, Mildred Powers, who lives on Hosmer Street, said she has lived in the area since 1971 and was disappointed to hear about the recent violence.

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“It’s usually safe and quiet but sometimes things like this seep through,” she said. “It’s sad.”

Globe Correspondent Matthew Berg contributed to this report.


Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.