Peace activist’s nephew slain in Roxbury

Isaura Mendes was comforted by friend James Hills 
Thursday after the death of her nephew Leroy Carvalho the day before. In years past, she lost two of her sons to street violence.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Isaura Mendes was comforted by friend James Hills Thursday after the death of her nephew Leroy Carvalho the day before. In years past, she lost two of her sons to street violence.

A Dorchester activist who has lost two sons to violence issued an emotional plea for peace Thursday, after tragedy struck again when her nephew was fatally shot the night before on his birthday.

“I want to tell the young people not to lose hope,” Isaura Mendes, 62, a longtime peace activist, said in a phone interview. “I want them to be strong and just to be OK and be at peace with one another.”

Mendes identified the victim in Wednesday night’s shooting on Albion Street in Dorchester as her nephew, Leroy Carvalho, a father of a young son. Friends said he was 31.


He was standing outside his home and getting ready to celebrate his birthday when he was gunned down shortly after 10:15 p.m., Mendes said.

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She said that Carvalho’s girlfriend is grieving after the shooting and that the ordeal may ultimately “destroy her.”

“She needs help,” Mendes said. “I guess we all need help, all of the survivors, the people who live with this tragedy every day.”

Mendes and her family have endured a wave of tragic losses dating back more than two decades. Her son Bobby was stabbed to death in 1995 in Dorchester at the age of 23. Another son, Alex, 24, was fatally shot in 2006 near where his older brother was slain.

Carvalho himself had previously lost two brothers, Luis and Christopher, to shootings that occurred in the early 2000s. Another nephew of Mendes, Larry Andrade, 23, was fatally shot outside a Roxbury lounge in 1996.


“It’s very painful,” Mendes said. “I don’t know why they are getting killed. I don’t know why people are doing it. ”

Aram Boghosian The Boston Globe
Family and friends prayed outside the Boston Police District B-2 Headquarters in Roxbury Thursday.

David Estrada, a Boston police spokesman, said Thursday that there was no information on a possible motive for Wednesday’s shooting.

No arrests have been made.

Mendes is the cofounder of an annual march for peace that was established in 2000. She has regularly expressed a message of forgiveness at the event, and she reiterated that call Thursday, urging young people to avoid resorting to violence.

“If they are in pain, [I] ask them not to hurt one another,” she said. “This stuff is really killing us. We need to live with one another in peace, and I’m begging them not to get revenge, because we cannot take this anymore.”


On Thursday evening, volunteers organized a gathering in Carvalho’s honor in front of the police station in Roxbury. Attendees called for “an end to gun violence in our communities,” according to a press release from the organizers.

Among the crowd, which grew to about 40 people, was state Representative Carlos Henriquez, Democrat of Dorchester, who said he and Carvalho were close friends.

“Leroy was a guy who brought happiness to people,” Henriquez said, “always in a good mood, always joking.”

An event organizer, Joao Depina, 34, of Roxbury, lamented the loss. “It’s unfortunate that there’s somebody in our community with so much hate in his heart that he would take away a mother’s child,” he said.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 617-343-4470 or the anonymous tips line at 800-494-TIPS. The public can also send anonymous messages to police by texting TIP to 27463.

Travis Andersen can be reached attravis.andersen; Jeremy C. Fox at