Richard Alexander wept Sunday afternoon in Dorchester, a few feet from where his son had been fatally shot the night before.
The man scrubbed Glenburne Street with a push broom and soap, trying to wash away his son’s blood. Soon overcome with emotion, he stabbed the push broom against the ground in anger.
“I thought I heard shots, but you couldn’t tell the gunshots from the fireworks . . . but then my youngest son came in saying Ryan was shot and it did not look good at all,” Alexander said. “When I came out, he was just lying on the ground.”
Richard Alexander’s son, who has not been identified by authorities, was Boston’s only homicide during the holiday weekend, police said, although seven people were shot or shot at between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Alexander’s son, identified by the family only as Ryan, 26, was with a childhood friend at the time of the shooting, the family said. Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans told reporters at the scene that the friend sustained minor injuries and had his arm “grazed” by bullets.
Early Saturday afternoon police responded to two separate shootings at 1:36 p.m. and 2:19 p.m. involving three victims, none of whom suffered life-threatening injuries. Early Sunday morning, two people were shot on Warren Street in Roxbury and left with non-life-threatening injuries. Separately, Boston police confiscated two firearms within an hour.
Police said they have recorded 13 homicides so far this year, including Alexander’s son.
“We need the community to help us keep guns off the streets,” Evans told reporters Saturday night at the scene of the fatal shooting.
Police responded to the shooting involving Alexander’s son at 10:47 p.m. Saturday. The two men were found at 12 Holburn St. near its intersection with Glenburne Street, police said in a statement.
Evans told reporters a man in his mid-20s was pronounced dead at the scene and neighbors reported a fleeing car.
“I’m not just saying this because he’s my kid,” said Alexander as his wife and another son, Marlon, stood nearby. “But really, Ryan was a great kid. Never messed with anyone.” Alexander said he had three sons and a daughter.
Marlon helped scrub away his brother’s blood from the street.
Neighbors remembered the shooting victim as a cordial young man.
“He would make sure . . . kids could play in the park. He’d shovel and help with your car. And he would always say hello,” Mary Delgado, a neighbor, said.
Delgado was taking a plate of food to the victim’s family’s home on Glenburne Street, which sits next to Holburn Street Totlot for Children.
A small memorial was set up outside the Totlot around 2 p.m, as friends and family began leaving small candles at the park’s entrance. Splatters of blood were still visible nearby.
“They’re good people,” said another neighbor, Rob Alexander, who is not related to the family of the victim. “They’re the heart of our neighborhood. You know the family and you see them around.”
Rob Alexander said the shooting victim would frequently hang out by the Harbor Street Totlot, especially at night. Still, he described his section of Dorchester as “pretty quiet.”
“It’s just heart-wrenching when it happens to someone you see every day,” he said. The victim’s body lay in the street for several hours, he said, as police investigated.
Gary Flemming who was walking past the Totlot with his 10-month-old daughter said he found the shooting alarming and said he would be wary of taking her to the playground.
“The park is not safe . . . people do not have respect for anything or anyone anymore,” he said, holding the baby.
Celeste Dancy, Rob Alexander’s girlfriend, was home during the shooting. She estimated 30 neighbors were out on the street after shots rang out, including the Alexander family and friends.
When Dancy arrived, moments after the shooting, friends of the slain man were wailing over his body, she said.
“There was blood everywhere,” she said. “And it was very emotional.”
Dancy had just returned from an Independence Day cookout.
“There were fireworks . . . it was such a beautiful night,” she said.
Like other neighbors, she said she could not distinguish between gunshots and the fireworks Saturday night.
Delgado said before the shooting, fireworks going off in the neighborhood were so powerful they shook her house. “I didn’t know what happened until I heard the commotion outside,” she said.
After residents became aware of the death, the celebrations ceased and the neighborhood grew quiet, she said.
Alexander’s wife, the victim’s mother, spoke briefly outside the family’s home. She said she was thankful for the support of people who knew her son well.
“Right now, all I want is to put my son to rest and to move on,” she said. “I’m 54 years old. I’m not fearful of anything. I do not walk by fear. I walk with God.”
Astead W. Herndon can be reached at email@example.com.