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Residents said Roxbury shooting looked like execution

A man was shot to death on Winthrop Street early Thursday.
A man was shot to death on Winthrop Street early Thursday.(Dina Rudick/Globe Staff)

It looked like an execution. A witness watched a young man walk down Winthrop Street in Roxbury at around 4 a.m. Thursday, headed for another young man sitting in a car, playing on his phone. The man on foot stopped, stared at the man in the car, then darted across the street and fired about six shots, killing his target almost immediately, the witness said.

Boston Police said the 24-year-old victim was lying near his car bleeding when officers arrived outside, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, as well as several other witnesses who saw the shooting’s aftermath and also spoke on condition of anonymity, said they saw the shooter flee on foot, while a friend of the victim pulled the man out of his car.

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“No, no, no,” the friend screamed, witnesses said. “Don’t die! Don’t die!”

The victim’s family had not yet been notified of his death, according to Boston police spokeswoman Officer Rachel McGuire, and little information about the killing was available. No arrests have yet been made.

A law enforcement official briefed on the case said police were trying to find a motive.

Until about 11 a.m. Thursday, the victim’s body still lay under a white sheet on the pavement next to his car, the door hanging open above him. Bright green evidence cones were scattered across the street and on the hood of his car. The driver’s side window appeared to have a web of cracks.

The person who witnessed the killing said the shooter walked down Winthrop, paused twice to stare into the victim’s car as he got closer, and then leapt into the street to launch his volley of bullets before taking off in the direction from which he came.

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No one recognized the shooter in the darkness.

The victim’s friend frantically checked his breathing, witnesses said.

“It was just screaming, just gut-wrenching screams,” said one man, who said his brother got a close look at the victim’s face, and said the he was not from the area.

“This is one of the most peaceful areas around here,” said the man. “This is a person’s dream. To own your own home, plant your gardens. And to come outside and see a body, it’s disheartening. It’s sad.”

The stretch of Winthrop Street where the man was killed is lined by large houses and blooming trees, and across the street from where he fell there is a park with a walking path. Neighbors said they knew each other, and some called to each other by name. Still, some residents said there is gang activity in the area.

One man and woman walking together towards their apartment, which was roped off by crime-scene tape, said they were acquainted with the victim, who they saw shaking silently in front of their building after his friend pulled him from the car. The man said the killing appeared targeted.

“This wasn’t an accident,” said the man. The victim was just visiting the street, the man and woman said.

The slaying brought homicides to nine for the year; 14 homicides were recorded during the same period last year.


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