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    Spate of slayings puts Brockton on edge

    BROCKTON — Police are increasing daytime walking beats and other patrols in some areas of the city in response to six homicides this year — the same number as in all of 2012 — most of them occurring during the day.

    “We’ll be deploying more units during the daytime, and we have to go where the violence is,” said Police Chief Emanuel Gomes, referring to the neighborhoods ringing the downtown area.

    On Tuesday afternoon, police found the latest victim, 45-year-old Charles Evans, unresponsive at 227 Belmont St., suffering from gunshot wounds to his chest.


    Gomes said that his department, in collaboration with State Police, has been effective in curbing late-night violence fueled by drugs and gang activity, and that those efforts have apparently pushed violent activity into the daytime.

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    “We’ve done tremendous work, and it may have displaced some of that away from the hours they’re typically active,’’ Gomes said.

    Police have made arrests in all six cases. On Thursday, Donta Hood, 22, of Brockton, was arrested in connection with the Evans slaying.

    Hood is scheduled to be arraigned on a homicide charge Friday in Brockton District Court.

    In all but two of the cases, the suspects live in Brockton. The others live in Quincy and Taunton, Gomes said.


    Four of the six homicides have happened since April 22, unleashing a wave of fear in some neighborhoods.

    “I believe it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Kevin Brevard, 44, who grew up in Boston but recently moved to Brockton.

    On Tuesday, he said, he was sitting next to his house, diagonally behind 227 Belmont St. when he heard several gunshots.

    When the popping noise stopped, he said, his roommate walked toward the street and saw a man on the ground.

    “He was just laying right over there, on the driveway,” Brevard said, pointing toward 227 Belmont St. “His eyes were open, and blood was coming out of his mouth. . . . My daughter comes over, and I don't feel comfortable with her coming over anymore with all this violence and stuff.”


    The first homicide of the year occurred on Jan. 30, near 12 Auburn St., just south of the downtown area. That victim, Joshua LeClair, 21, died six days later.

    On March 6, Eric Dillard, 32, was fatally shot inside 419 Montello St., also just south of downtown.

    On April 22, Vardly St. Felix, 23, was fatally shot and another man wounded in a daytime shooting near the Angelo Elementary School, just north of the downtown area.

    On May 4, Jonathan Semedo, 18, of Taunton, was fatally stabbed near 517 Summer St., southeast of downtown.

    And on May 8, Nicholas Grimes, 56, was fatally beaten at the Elmcourt Hotel, located downtown.

    Mayor Linda Balzotti hopes the new deployment strategy will prevent any more slayings, especially during the summer months, when violent crime has a tendency to rise.

    “Obviously, I’m concerned, because it’s not even summer yet,” Balzotti said. “That’s why we’re making some adjustments now.”

    Balzotti said that police have been working diligently to curb violence, and that residents should call police when they see suspicious activity, “so that we can be proactive.”

    Brockton police, working with state troopers have conducted four or five large-scale crime sweeps since 2011, resulting in the arrests of dozens of people with outstanding warrants ranging from assault with dangerous weapon to drug possession and distribution.

    “There are two things I can’t control,” the mayor said. “How a 16- or 17-year-old gets a gun, and once we arrest an individual, what happens when the case goes through the judicial system. If I could read [offenders’] minds and prevent it, I would.”

    Brian Ballou can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeBallou.