Two men were killed on Elder Street in Dorchester late Wednesday night after they were shot and the car they were riding in crashed and erupted into flames, officials said.
After the car came to a stop, its wheels continued to spin. Sparks began to fly near the back tires and orange flames appeared underneath the car and around the spinning wheels, according to a video shot by a neighbor. Residents on the street were jarred by the noise and looked outside to see the car ablaze in the middle of the street.
Boston police officers responded to Elder Street around 10:23 p.m. and found the car on fire. “It was later determined that the occupants had suffered gunshot wounds and had crashed the vehicle,” police said in a statement.
Both men in the car were pronounced dead at the scene, according to police. Authorities did not release their names. Officials are looking into the possibility that the shootings were gang-related.
Erica Bentencourt of Holbrook said the car that caught on fire was a BMW that belonged to her brother, Jimmy Gomes, and that he died in the car with his “very good friend” Amilton Dos Santos, 27.
Bentencourt described her 41-year-old brother as a father of eight who was “very loving, very caring, [and] very protective.” She said Dos Santos was quiet and softspoken, and “a very good kid.”
Both men lived in Dorchester, she said, and had been hanging out a lot together over the past couple of months.
On Thursday evening, family and friends gathered near a small memorial of candles and flowers placed near where the BMW crashed on Elder Street.
Servolo Fernandes, a cousin of Dos Santos, recalled his cousin as a big-hearted, hardworking, inspirational person who had just had a child.
“This is him, this is his street,” said Fernandes, 31, of Upham’s Corner. “That’s why everybody is here. He’s a good kid. This is not a gang street.”
Others recalled the intensity of the fiery crash. “The wheels were just spinning, spinning, spinning,” said Tori Cruz, 30, who was visiting her boyfriend across the street.
Cruz heard the crash, and went outside to move her car, which was parked nearby. She then tried to get people to go indoors because she was concerned the BMW would blow up. “It’s a sad situation,” said Cruz on Thursday. “Two people lost their lives and no one knows who did it.”
Patricia Smith, who can see the spot of the crash from her porch, said she was shocked by Wednesday night’s incident. “It was fully engulfed,” said Smith, 70, who has lived in the neighborhood for 11 years. “It was just unbelievable.”
She said police did “everything they could to try to get” Gomes and Dos Santos out of the burning car. “It just didn’t happen.”
Teresa Dagraca said she went to the crash site Thursday morning to see where her nephew, Jimmy Gomes, died.
“I came here to see what happened,” she said.
She said she heard the news when her daughter came home Wednesday night. “She was screaming, ‘They killed my Jimmy. They killed my Jimmy!’ ”
Realizing she was talking about her nephew, she said, “I started screaming, too.” Dagraca said Gomes was a “good kid.”
Elder Street resident Lisa Tyson said she was at home when the shooting happened. She said she heard at least six shots followed by a “horrible grinding” noise.
Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney’s office, urged anyone with information on the double slaying to contact authorities.
In a statement, Boston police asked anyone with information to call homicide detectives at 617- 343-4470. Members of the public can also call in anonymous tips to 800-494-TIPS or text the word TIP to 27463.
John Ellement and Jacob Carozza of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.