Sole survivor describes Brockton triple shooting

BROCKTON — She had expect­ed to see her friend when she opened her apartment door that horrifying after­noon Jan. 21, 2009.

Instead, it was a former neighbor, Keith Luke, the man she knew as “the fat guy who lived upstairs.” He pointed a gun at her face and forced his way inside, handcuffed her, pulled her hair, and, prosecutors allege, raped her. Then he shot her five times.

The sole survivor of a triple shooting that terrorized Brockton four years ago testified Wednesday that she crouched in her sister’s bedroom that day, trying to shield herself from the gunshots with a large yellow teddy bear. The first bullet struck her head.


“I felt he destroyed everything in my head,’’ she told ­jurors in Brockton Superior Court. “It was so strong and it hurt. It was so bad that I didn’t feel the other ones.”

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Her wrenching testimony, which brought tears to the eyes of one juror, came on the fifth day of Luke’s murder trial on charges that he raped and shot the woman, fatally shot her 20-year-old sister and Arlindo ­DePina Goncalves, 72.

The woman Luke is accused of shooting and raping that day survived and faced her attacker in court Wednesday. The Globe is not naming her because she is a victim of an alleged rape.

As her father watched in the gallery, the woman stood during the first part of her testimony and pointed to Luke as her attacker. He is a self-described white supremacist who prosecutors say was carrying out a race war on nonwhites. The three victims were from Cape Verde.

The defense has tried to portray Luke as a deranged man who had languished in psychiatric hospitals, where he cultivated hateful, racist thoughts.


Luke’s lawyer, Joseph F. Krowski Jr., tried to point out inconsistencies in the woman’s earlier account to police and the details she relayed in court. But she held firm that her testimony Wednesday was the most accurate and the best of her recollection.

In addition to the much antici­pated testimony of the survivor, jurors also heard from Luke himself in a video of his confession to police investigators shortly after his arrest.

In the video, he said he carried out his rampage because he felt whites were being degraded and that the “Zionist-occupied government” was rounding up white survivalists like him and putting them in camps.

In one chilling moment in the video, he asked investigators how many people he killed and said the rampage was a failure because he did not kill ­every nonwhite person he shot.

Speaking calmly and taking sips of water, the survivor of his rampage told jurors that she and her sister lived together and that they had left for the same workplace around 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 21, 2009.


She testified that she had returned home midmorning because she was not feeling well. At her first-floor apartment, she told jurors, she heard a knock on the door. She looked through the peephole, saying she only saw the visitor’s hair and thought that a friend had come to check on her.

But it was Luke, armed with a gun and a backpack stuffed with a hammer and a syringe, according to the testimony.

“When he put the gun to my face I recognized him as the fat guy who lived upstairs,’’ the victim said. “He asked me who was in the house. He told me to shut my mouth.”

The woman said Luke was angry. He slapped her, stuffed a ball gag in her mouth, cuffed her hands behind her back, and made her lie face down on the living room floor.

He wrapped a rubber band around her arm and attempted to inject her with a white substance, she testified. She said Luke tried to ask her questions, but grew frustrated because her English was not good.

The woman testified that during the assault, her sister knocked on the window, and Luke became excited upon learning that someone was outside. She said he quickly put on his pants, pushed her into a corner and told her to be quiet. He ran toward the kitchen, and then she heard four shots.

By then, she had managed to get one of her arms out of the handcuffs. She reached for a large teddy bear near the bed, and hid behind the stuffed animal as gunfire hit her.

“When he shot my head, I hugged tight my teddy bear, and I pretended that I was dead,” she testified, tearing up.

Plymouth prosecutor Frank Middleton pulled out a giant teddy bear from a large plastic evidence bag and asked her to demonstrate her actions that January afternoon.

She clutched the stuffed animal and crouched down near a juror. She was struck five times — in the head, chest, and on her legs and arms — and would need 15 surgeries.

“So many shots,’’ she said, crying and wiping her face. “I didn’t open my eyes. I didn’t want him to think that I was alive.”

She said that Luke left the apartment and that she waited until she thought it was safe and pried open a locked bedroom door, breaking her wounded arm to escape.

She testified that she saw Luke ­inside his black van and that he was shooting in the ­direction of a driveway where police would later find her sister’s body face down. She said she saw Luke shoot the 72-year-old man.

Meghan Irons can be reached a Follow her on Twitter @MeghanIrons.