Malden woman identified as victim in Everett bar shooting
A 21-year-old Malden woman was identified as the person shot and killed at a popular bar in downtown Everett Thursday morning.
Ashlee Berryman, one of five people murdered in Greater Boston during a period of about four hours, was shot to death around 12:56 a.m. at the Braza Bar and Grill on School Street, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office.
Berryman, according to prosecutors, “was an unintended target in this shooting.’’
She was rushed to Whidden Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
No arrests have been made.
Berryman, who went by “Penny,” was at Braza to watch her boyfriend perform, her relatives said. The establishment had a lineup of rappers scheduled Wednesday night, according to social media posts promoting the event.
She leaves behind a 3-year-old son, said her sister, Alx Berryman.
Berryman, 20, had a message for her sister’s killer:
“You just took away a 3-year-old’s mother,” she said. “Maybe you don’t have a mother and that’s why you’re such a monster, but if you did have a mother, or if you do have a mother, imagine growing up without her.”
Berryman’s grandfather, Richard Halbich, 72, recalled teaching his granddaughter to ride a bike at his home in Saugus. He said Berryman and his other grandchildren learned to bike on a bicycle he refurbished.
“It seems that as a society we’ve learned to do many, many, many, many things. But the things that’s most important is that we still haven’t learned how to get along,” Halbich said.
He said his daughter, Carol Brown, 49, called him about 4 a.m. Thursday and said Berryman had been fatally shot.
“I immediately had to regroup and ask, ‘Did I hear you correctly,’” Halbich said. “I think the most important thing is that we recognize that she was taken way before her time.”
“If you had known her, she would have tugged at your heart strings,” he said. “She was a very loving and caring individual . . . She certainly can’t be replaced.”
Berryman just turned 21 last month and celebrated with her family by eating chocolate cake, said Brown, her aunt.
She shared a special bond with her brother, Jonathan, who is 11 months her senior. Their children are also separated by 11 months.
“I’m honestly lost for words,” said Jonathan Berryman, 21. “I just feel like everything’s been taken right from underneath me.”
He said his sister taught him to be a good father.
“That was just my other half,” Jonathan Berryman said.
Paul Duarte, who owns Braza Bar & Grill, said he learned what happened from Everett police, but did not know much about the shooting. He said he was not at the restaurant Wednesday night and plans to meet with employees who were there.
“Anytime you lose a life — that’s sad,” Duarte said.
The restaurant has been open for four years and has never experienced any violence, Duarte said.
He said there are many restaurants, bars, and stores in the area, and that he tries to be sensitive to complaints from neighbors about customers at his restaurant.
“It’s tough to say anything, if it’s my customers or somebody else’s customers,” Duarte said. “We try the best. We try to work with the neighbors, with everybody. This is a business. A restaurant business. We try to work with the local business and we try to help local organizations. And we try to work together with the community.”
In a statement, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said he was “deeply saddened’’ and “heartbroken’’ by the fatal shooting of Berryman and he vowed to provide financial support to police officers searching for her killer.
“I can not understand how someone can just fire a weapon and have no care what happens to the people on the other side of that gun,’’ DeMaria said. “My police department will spare no expense to find out who shot that gun. On behalf of all the residents of Everett I want to express again my sincerest condolences to Ashlee’s family.’’
A man who lives in Sacro Plaza, an apartment building next to the bar, said his wife witnessed the shooting from inside their home. He pointed to blood stains nearby and evidence markers left on the parking lot sign, including one that appeared to indicate a bullet hole.
The man, who asked not to be named, said his wife told him the shooter fired from the middle of the parking lot toward the entrance before the victim collapsed by the parking lot sign. He said he heard eight gunshots.
“My wife saw it,” he said. “She was so scared. She was lying on the couch and I said, ‘What happened?’ And she said, ‘Someone got shot.’”
The man said he asked his wife if she was OK.
“She said, ‘Yeah, I’m OK, but she’s not,’” he said.
The man said his wife told him the shooter fled behind Sacro Plaza, and that when he looked outside, he heard a man say he knew the shooter.
His wife, he said, “is very afraid” and “very disappointed.”
“She thought Everett was the best place,” he said.
Sally Naso, 80, who also lives in Sacro Plaza, said she heard music and talking outside around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, and shut her window to muffle the noise. She said she went to bed between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. and then was awakened by a commotion outside.
“Twelve-thirty, one o’clock, I hear the screaming, the hollering, and the shooting,” Naso said.
She said she heard four gunshots from her apartment on the eighth floor, but did not get out of bed.
“I was scared. I was shaking so much,” she said. “I didn’t know where the gun would be shooting . . . It’s terrible.”
Naso said there is loud music at Braza Bar & Grill nearly every night and she has complained about it to police.
“The noise is unbelievable,” Naso said. “This was the worst. I could not believe on a Wednesday it was so bad. . . I just go to bed and I go nice asleep and boom. Wow.”
“I heard this guy yelling, ‘Oh no! Oh no,’” she said. “I heard the guy scream, ‘Oh my God! Oh no! Oh no!’”
When she looked in the parking lot, she said she saw police carrying flashlights and looking in garbage barrels.