Two men were killed and two others wounded in four separate shootings across the city Friday night into Saturday morning, officials said, in a spasm of violence that appeared in three of the incidents to be connected to late-night parties ahead of the city’s Caribbean festival.
“Yesterday I went out in front of the media and said this is always a challenging night for us,” said Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans at a press conference Saturday afternoon. “We had five people shot by this time last year.”
A man in his mid-20s was killed in a shooting at about 1:42 a.m. near the corner of Westville and Boyd Streets in Dorchester, where several parties turned violent, officials said.
A man in his 30s was killed in front of the 7-Eleven convenience store on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain at about 3:34 a.m., Evans said. The man appeared to have been targeted, and his shooting was not linked to any parties.
The two other men were injured in shootings on Standard Street in Mattapan at 9:15 p.m. Friday, and on Norton Street in Dorchester at about 2:53 a.m., police said. Many parties were being held on both streets at the time, Evans said.
Another person was stabbed at 515 Blue Hill Ave. as Saturday afternoon’s Carnival parade wound down, but is expected to survive.
The J’ouvert celebration in the morning Saturday was peaceful. Officials stressed that the shootings had nothing to do with the celebrations themselves, but rather with raucous parties held the night before.
On Westville Street, near the spot where the man in his 20s was fatally shot, a 55-year-old man sitting on his front porch Saturday morning said the gunfire several hours earlier was the first he had heard on the street in about three decades living there.
He said there may have been about eight shots, but other neighborhood residents thought they had heard as many as a dozen, in rapid succession.
A 23-year-old woman, who lives in another part of Dorchester and also declined to give her name, said she heard 10 to 12 shots and later saw the victim lying in a field next to UP Academy Dorchester, a school on Westville Street, as she was walking home from a nearby house party.
She said she saw a woman who appeared to be in her 20s crying over the young man as he lay on his back, and several other people who stood watching.
Police performed CPR on the man, but stopped before the ambulance arrived, appearing to give up, she said.
“I looked death in the face,” the woman said. “That was kind of sad.”
On Norton Street, only a third of a mile from the Westville Street shooting, one woman said she had been awoken by gunshots, but neither she nor her neighbors said they saw anything.
On Standard Street, residents said they had heard multiple gunshots that several initially took to be fireworks.
The man killed in Jamaica Plain was a panhandler who was known to use a wheelchair, though he did not need one, officials said. He had no apparent connection to any parties, and appeared to have been targeted.
On Saturday morning, the parking lot outside the 7-Eleven where he was killed was almost entirely cordoned off by yellow police tape. Two plainclothes officers stood near the stores’entrance, sorting through clothing and other objects on a wheelchair, as numbered evidence markers lay around their feet.
Alize Valentino, 46, who lives nearby, stood across Centre Street surveying the crime scene. Valentino said he had seen a man in a wheelchair outside the store often over the past couple of years and had occasionally given him small amounts of cash.
“He would just ask, ‘Hey, buddy, how about some change when you come out?’ “ Valentino said. “If you help him out, he would say, ‘God bless, and thank you.’ ”
Valentino said the man in the chair was never aggressive in asking for money and was always grateful for anything he was given.
“It would really break my heart to find out someone actually targeted somebody like that,” Valentino said. “He’s handicapped. He’s homeless, doesn’t have anything of value, doesn’t have anything they can rob from him except his wheelchair. … And all he does is ask for help all day and all night.”
Ann Taylor-Oliver, 66, said she lives just down the street from the store and had seen the man in the wheelchair when she came in Friday night to buy scratch tickets.
She gave him a dollar, she said.
“I always say hi to him and give him a dollar or some change,” she said. “He was always nice and said, ‘Thank you and God bless you.’ ”
When she saw the man Friday night, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, Taylor-Oliver said.
“He was smiling,” she said. “God rest his soul.”