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Suspect in custody in fatal Cambridge shooting

Rasaun Nichols, 31, was shot in a car near 119 Windsor St. in Cambridge.handout

CAMBRIDGE — Shameka Woods sat in the front of a Cambridge District Courtroom Monday morning, to see the face of the man accused of gunning down her brother as he sat in a car with his girlfriend on Windsor Street two weeks ago.

But she never saw him; he remained out of public view, standing behind a wall.

"He was a coward and that's what cowards do," said Woods, 31, as she left the courthouse. "I want him to rot."

On Monday, Roosselin Altidor, 25, of Medford, was arraigned on a charge of murder in the death of 31-year-old Rasaun Nichols on the night of Aug. 12. Judge J. Michele Hogan ordered Altidor held without bail.


Authorities did not provide a motive for the shooting, but the two men knew each other, court records show.

Nichols's mother, Robin, told police that the men had fought in Columbia Park in Cambridge about a month ago. And Altidor also told police about the fight during a conversation with officers at the Cambridge police station two days after Nichols's death. But it is not clear why the men fought that day.

Nichols's mother and Altidor's girlfriend knew each other from the neighborhood and worked at the Gap in Watertown together. Altidor would occasionally pick both women up from work and drive them back to Cambridge, according to court records.

Nichols was seated in the front passenger seat of his girlfriend's car in a parking area adjacent to the Newtowne Court apartments about 8:40 p.m. on Aug. 12 when, "the defendant stepped in front of the vehicle and pointed a handgun at Mr. Nichols and then opened fire, shooting at him through the windshield," according to assistant district attorney Steve Loughlin.

Loughlin said many of the shots hit Nichols.

Nichols's girlfriend sped off to rush him to the hospital, but she stopped for help on Main Street in Kendall Square, court records show. When police arrived, Nichols had lost a lot of blood and did not have a pulse. He died minutes later.


Police recovered nine shell casings from the shooting scene on Windsor Street.

Two days after the shooting, Altidor told Cambridge police that he was nowhere near the scene at that time. According to court records, Altidor told police he dropped off his girlfriend at work at 4 p.m., stopped by the Powder House Grill in Somerville, then went to his home on Lincoln Street in Medford, where he lives with his mother.

He told police he was home until 8:30 p.m. when he left to pick up his girlfriend from work. He also admitted to owning a gun, according to the court records. But phone records placed Altidor at the scene of the shooting just three minutes before gunfire erupted, Loughlin told the court. And after obtaining a search warrant, police recovered a .40 caliber Ruger semiautomatic handgun and ammunition in a locked box hidden in the attic of Altidor's third-floor bedroom. He was arrested Friday, the same day of Nichols's funeral.

"That gun was sent to the Massachusetts state ballistics lab where comparison testing was done [and] concluded that that gun fired the shell cases that were recovered at the scene," Loughlin told the court before asking that Altidor be held without bail.

Police said a number of witnesses identified Altidor as the shooter.


Nichols's uncle, Harold Dottin, 59, said the swift arrest has provided some relief to the family, but he said the shooting should never have happened.

"It was senseless," he said.

Woods, who wore pins emblazoned with an image of Nichols, said she and her brother lost their father to gun violence in 1991.

Dottin said he wanted to be in court so that Altidor could see the family, the support and love they have for Nichols, a father of four children.

Crime scene tape surrounded the car in which Rasaun Nichols was killed Aug. 12.Scott Eisen for The Boston Globe/File

Jan Ransom can be reached at jan.ransom@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Jan_Ransom.