Boston grappling with a spike in violence
Erica Jasey and her boyfriend had just pulled up to her uncle’s house in Dorchester on Monday afternoon, their 5-month-old daughter buckled safely in back, when out of nowhere a man opened fire into her car.
The baby’s father, who was not named by police, staggered from the car, crying out for help as he bled from gunshot wounds to his leg and back. Jasey, who was identified by her uncle, was also hit. The 5-month-old, Harmony, slept through the attack and was unscathed.
The shooting on a residential street was the seventh in three days in Boston, part of a citywide surge of violence that has many worried about what the summer, a typically dangerous time in some parts of the city, will bring.
Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said there is a “sense of urgency” in combating the recent spate of violence, but said he is not worried that the bloodshed will be prolonged.
“We’re . . . making sure that we stop as many shootings as possible, but this is what happens in cities as we get into the summer months,” Davis said.
As of June 11, there had been 104 shootings in Boston, 17 of them fatal, according to the city’s latest data. There were 81 shootings, 12 fatal, over the same period last year.
The spike comes after decades of declining crime, both in Boston and nationwide. Davis said he doesn’t think the recent shootings signal an end to that trend.
“We have a pretty good track record of keeping a long-term trajectory going in the right direction,” Davis said. “Crime is decreasing every year and we intend to keep that going.”
But some community leaders said fear is pervading neighborhoods where shootings are more commonplace, and where community-based organizations that have traditionally helped stem violence by offering jobs and trauma counseling are suffering financially.
“I’m way past concerned,” said Jorge Martinez, head of Project RIGHT, a nonprofit group in Grove Hall that combats violence by working with young people. “We’ve already started with a huge amount of violence and shots being fired. If we’re starting off with these numbers already this spring, what are we looking forward to at the end of the summer?”
The shooting in Dorchester, at the corner of Devon Street and Vaughan Avenue, happened just before 2 p.m.
Louis Jasey, 52, said he was washing his truck when he saw his 20-year-old niece behind the wheel of a red KIA.
“Anytime she pulls up she always go, ‘Uncle Lou, the baby is here’ so I automatically run to the car,” he said. As Louis Jasey bounded toward the car, a man, his faced shrouded by a hooded shirt, rushed over.
“She didn’t even get a chance to put the car in park,” Louis Jasey said. Shots rang out. The man dashed into a blue Chevy that peeled away.
Louis Jasey grabbed Harmony from her car seat and ran into the house.
“Thank God that baby didn’t get hurt,” he said.
Erica Jasey was taken to Boston Medical Center and her boyfriend was taken to Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Both are expected to survive their injuries, officials said.
Police did not say who the target of the shooting was or what the motive might have been. Police spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca said the shooting was not random.
Davis said he met Monday morning with about a dozen lieutenants and captains from the districts that have suffered the brunt of the recent violence. Officers will patrol the areas where recent shootings have occurred and gang unit officers will tail those known for wreaking havoc in certain sections of the city, Davis said.
The weekend violence, which left one man dead and at least five people injured, was the result of several factors, including drug deals gone bad and parties that erupted into fights, Davis said.
“The good news is it’s not one particular issue that’s driving the violence that occurred this weekend,” he said. Multiple shootings tied to a gang dispute are more worrisome because the back and forth violence can stretch on over time.
The rise in the number of shootings in Boston comes at a time when other cities and towns across the country are seeing similar increases.
In 2012, the number of violent crimes reported by law enforcement agencies around the country increased 1.2 percent, while the number of property crimes decreased 0.8 percent, according to the FBI Uniformed Crime Statistics, which collects the data. It was the first time in six years that violent crime rose in the United States.