Clergy and community leaders expressed heartbreak Wednesday over the fatal shooting of a woman walking through a Dorchester Park, an incident many described as a blunt reminder of the city’s struggle with violence.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh condemned the “senseless tragedy” that killed 31-year-old Grisel Sanchez Tuesday near the intersection of Normandy and Seaver streets. He asked anyone with information to contact authorities.
Walsh appeared Wednesday evening at a vigil near the site of the shooting, alongside Boston Police Commissioner William Evans.
“Although crime has dropped overall in Boston, the number of shootings continue to rise and we must work together to curb that trend,” Walsh said in a statement. “There are too many guns on our streets in the wrong hands.”
“We are working alongside the Boston Police Department, clergy and community organizations to provide opportunities for our young people to get them into meaningful work and life experiences,” the mayor added.
Local clergy called for an end to the gun violence that left Sanchez’s three children without a mother.
“You have bullets flying into other people’s property, other people’s homes. ... We’re living in a very dangerous society right now,” said the Rev. Vernard Coulter, of New Faith Missionary Baptist Church on Geneva Avenue. “More people could have been hurt or damaged.”
“There’s a breakdown that happens within the home because of that — a person that stabilizes the home ... that support is gone now,” Coulter said.
The Rev. Jeffrey Brown, associate pastor at the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, called for more resources to support groups working with troubled youth.
“My fear is it is a harbinger of things to come,” said Brown, who said for the last several years shooters have been getting younger.
“Young shooters are not accurate in their shooting. More resources need to be put into nuturing 6 to 10 year-old boys in terms of providing opportunities to learn how to be productive citizens,” he added. “Too little resources go into that age group.”
Brown said this latest shooting should be cause for alarm.
“It should be a wake-up call for us. We know these young people can easily get armed and they don’t know how to settle simple disputes without violence,” Brown said. “It’s time for community residents to become more engaged by volunteering. You can’t wait for someone to do this for you. The violence won’t wait.”
Others said education and prevention programs are key to quelling the violence.
“Nobody deserves to be murdered in the streets,” said Rufus J. Faulk, program director at the Boston TenPoint Coalition, which works with Black and Latino youth. “We need the entire city to come together.”
“We need to look at how education and the lack thereof is affecting city streets,” Faulk said. “We need to have the same level of approach as if the Olympics were to come here.”
He said there is not enough investment in violence prevention programs for youth.
“Getting kids involved in things outside of their city block — that level of investment that existed when I was a child has dried up,” he said. “We are not doing enough to be that village, that city village to pull children off of that wrong track sooner.”
The area where Sanchez died has long been plagued by violence, including homicides, dozens of shootings, and a triple stabbing in the past decade.
A man opened fire in 2013 on officers who chased him into Puddingstone Park. That same year, a person was shot by a stray bullet on Seaver and Normandy streets. That person survived.
In 2007, 8-year-old Liquarry Jefferson was accidentally shot to death with an illegal gun by his 7-year-old cousin in their Seaver Street apartment.
And 15 years ago, a man in his 20s crumpled to the sidewalk in a hail of gunfire on Normandy Street.