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Dorchester man struck down as he turned life around

 Alex DoSouto, a former gang member, was succeeding in college before he was killed.
Alex DoSouto, a former gang member, was succeeding in college before he was killed.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File 2010/Globe Staff

On Thursday, the day he became Boston’s first homicide victim of 2015, Alex DoSouto, a former gang member whose family already had been devastated by gun violence, was the first player on the court for basketball practice at Roxbury Community College.

He was at last living his dream. After surviving a shooting in 2009 and serving two years in prison for armed robbery, DoSouto had won a starting role on the community college basketball team while earning high grades in his first semester of college.

He was gaining redemption in a community — the Bowdoin-Geneva section of Dorchester — where second chances rarely come easy.

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“Alex was so excited,’’ said his coach, Kwami Green. “I was falling in love with watching him do everything he needed to do for himself in sports and academia, and then tragedy strikes.’’

Thursday at about 10:45 p.m., five hours after basketball practice ended, DoSouto was among four passengers in a car on Harrishof Street in Roxbury who were hit by gunfire.

DoSouto, 24, died at the scene. A 24-year-old woman suffered a life-threatening injury and on Friday remained in critical condition; two men age 22 and 20 were wounded but are expected to survive, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the case.

Boston Police did not identify the shooting victims, but two of DoSouto’s siblings confirmed his death. “We’ve lost a good young man,’’ Green said. “We’ve got to find a way to forgive and let go and stop this culture of negativity.’’

The attack stoked fears in the Harrishof Street area and caused deep grief at the Hamilton Street home of DoSouto’s family. DoSouto was the fourth member of his family to be hit by gunfire and the second to die that way. His brother, Louis, was fatally shot in front of the family’s home in 2006.

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“It’s hard to lose one brother, and then to lose another one eight years later is unspeakable right now,’’ said their sister, Christina, on Friday. “I know Alex is looking down and wanting us to stay strong, but it’s so hard.’’

A law enforcement official said the victims appeared to have been targeted. No arrests have been made.

Residents said they heard between five and 10 shots, close together. Judy Pagan, who lives down the street, said she looked out her window and saw a man running down the street, away from the car, where two men who were tending to a wounded man. She heard them say they needed to get to a hospital, she said.

Boston Police Officer James Kenneally said the victims drove their car away from Harrishof Street. A law enforcement official briefed on the case said the car ended up at Walnut Avenue and Dale Street a few blocks away.

There was a time when DoSouto and several of his brothers belonged to a menacing gang known as the Cape Verdean Outlaws. The gang clashed for many years with rival Cape Verdeans from the other side of Uphams Corner.

In 2009, DoSouto was shot in the leg outside the family’s home on Hamilton Street. Three years earlier, his older brothers Louis and Milton were gunned down there, Louis dying when a bullet hit his heart, Milton left partially paralyzed.

Another brother, Mike, had been scarred by an earlier handgun assault.

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In Globe interviews in 2010, Mike and Milton said they were transitioning out of the gang life and hoping Alex would embrace a more positive life.

“We don’t want Alex to follow in our footsteps,’’ Mike said.

In 2009, DoSouto had gone from jail to English High School, where he became a star basketball player while he earned a diploma and the admiration of teachers and coaches.

Alex DoSouto was a standout guard on the Boston English High basketball team and had won a spot on the Roxbury Community College team this year.
Alex DoSouto was a standout guard on the Boston English High basketball team and had won a spot on the Roxbury Community College team this year.Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

“Alex was extremely intelligent, from passing AP chemistry to understanding Sophocles so well in honors English that he broke it down for other students,’’ his teacher, Rene Patten, recalled Friday. “As my thoughts whirl now, I wonder: Who will remember that Alex DoSouto? I’m so fearful that only I will. And I’m crying for his mother and father and sisters and brothers, but yes, they will remember, too.’’

DoSouto’s first attempt to overcome his past included plans to play college basketball in Virginia. But the effort abruptly ended a month after he graduated from English when he was sentenced to two to three years in prison for participating in a 2008 armed robbery in Quincy.

DoSouto emerged from MCI-Shirley in 2012 as a felon with no college prospects and two years of rust on his basketball skills. While he busied himself with basketball, playing regularly in Boston and Quincy, he struggled to clear the financial and bureaucratic hurdles to enroll in college.

“I’ve known Alex for a long time. And he’s a very talented person,” said Emmett Folgert, executive director of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative. The time he spent in jail, said Folgert, made him more thoughtful. “He had turned things around, that’s what I believe.”

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Last year, one of his former coaches at English, Claude Pritchard, helped him start over at Roxbury Community College.

“He was turning his life around,’’ said Pritchard, now an assistant coach at the college. “He was on the straight and narrow.’’

Christina DoSouto said her brother was striving to succeed not only for himself but his family and friends in the neighborhood who might be inspired by his achievements.

“We were extremely proud of him, and he knew that,’’ Christina said. “He wanted to do even better to prove everybody wrong.’’

Broken car window glass and blood was seen on Harrishof Street  where Alex DoSouto was killed.
Broken car window glass and blood was seen on Harrishof Street where Alex DoSouto was killed.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The college basketball team has canceled plans to participate in a tournament this weekend in Concord, N.H.

“Alex’s teammates loved him,’’ Green said. “We’ll find a way to get through this, but right now I can’t tell you how. It’s crushing.’’

Green said DoSouto appeared on track to win an athletic scholarship to a Division 2 college and pursue his goal of becoming an entrepreneur.

The killing raised concerns among some community leaders that it could trigger attempts at revenge.

“When it’s that brutal, and it’s that ruthless, my fear is that retaliation may come as a result,” said the Rev. Jeffrey Brown, associate pastor at the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury. “That it’s happening so early in the year, it’s scary and disheartening.”

To Anthony Robinson Seymour, a street worker who helped DoSouto turn around his life, his killing was another stark reminder of the enduring threats associated with a violent gang culture.

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“It always seems like that when you want to get out of the [gang] life, something comes back to haunt you,’’ he said. “We’ve got to find ways to circumvent that.’’

More coverage:

July 8, 2010: Toward a bright future, but shadowed by his past

Feb. 21, 2010: Off the streets and on a fast break for hope


Bob Hohler can be reached at hohler@globe.com. Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.