It was supposed to be a festive occasion.
Roughly 40 people had gathered for a barbecue in Dorchester, some traveling from outside of Boston to celebrate a mother's 50th birthday shortly before midnight on Saturday. Her family was preparing to run a slide show on a large screen in a small yard in the courtyard of her Franklin Field apartment on Westview and Stratton streets. It was one of three barbecues in the courtyard that night.
But then, residents said, 14 shots rang out and four people were injured. One, a guest in her 20s, was shot in the back. The three others were not attending that barbecue.
One man and two women, with injuries ranging from "not so severe" to "critical," were taken to the Boston Medical Center, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Brigham and Women's Hospital, according to Boston Emergency Services Lieutenant Gretchen Fox. The fourth person refused treatment, Fox said. The ages of the victims were unavailable. The call concerning the shooting came in at 11:45 p.m., according to police.
Although the violence was the latest in a week that included a fatal shooting on Dudley Terrace around midnight Friday and a stabbing in East Boston on Wednesday that left a man dead, Boston police spokesman Michael McCarthy said this has been "one of the safest summers on record."
The fatal shooting marked the 22nd homicide in Boston, a figure that matches the number of homicides for the same period last year, McCarthy said.
"The commissioner has always said, one [shooting] is too many," McCarthy said Sunday. "Considering where other major cities are, we're experiencing some pretty low numbers."
McCarthy said the number of shootings citywide is down 25 percent and violent crime is down 6 percent compared to this time last year.
But the recent violence, he said, is still worrisome.
"It is concerning anytime there is a shooting," McCarthy said, "We want to find out what happened."
McCarthy said the weekend shootings were not random and it is too early to say whether they were gang-related. Police said they have made no arrests.
In the shooting that left a 36-year-old man dead and a 31-year-old woman critically injured late Friday on Dudley Terrace, police say they are looking for a black man in a blue hoodie who ran from Dudley Terrace.
Nearly 24 hours later, residents at the Franklin Field apartments say, they were trying to enjoy the summer night when gunfire erupted.
People scattered throughout the courtyard, darting into homes. Inside apartments, parents and children crashed to the floor for cover.
"I threw myself to the floor," said a 62-year-old resident, who was caring for several children inside her apartment at the time and declined to be named. Bullets struck the outside of her apartment, leaving holes in the red brick.
"I was so afraid it would go through the window," she said.
A 43-year-old mother of three, who also declined to give her name, said the incident was especially traumatic for her 8-year-old son, who has autism. He stood in their apartment with his hands covering his ears as gunfire crackled throughout the complex.
After it was over, the woman said, she saw four men fleeing, including one with a long gun.
"There's nothing we can do about it," said Mercy Hutchinson, 34, a resident and mother of a 14-year-old boy and a 9 year-old girl, of the violence. "When we are here, sometimes we are scared to come outside. . . . I'm afraid something is going to happen."
At the barbecue birthday celebration, the hosts apologized to their guests for the violence.
"This is how [my mother] will remember her 50th birthday," said a 27-year-old woman. "We were supposed to be having a good time."
She said she saw the sparks coming from the guns, but could not see the shooters.
"It was very cowardly and disrespectful," said a 33-year-old resident who attended the birthday celebration but declined to be named for fear of her safety. "It makes me so mad."
In the East Boston killing, Darius Barry, 18, was arrested Friday in connection with the death of Gage Smith, 23. He is expected to be arraigned in East Boston Court Monday.
"The safety and security of all Boston residents is our top priority, and we will continue to work diligently to bring peace to all parts of the city," Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement Sunday. "This weekend's shootings are still under investigation and we encourage anyone with information to contact the Boston Police Department."