Laurinda Barros knows the fear of wondering if she’ll get hit by a stray bullet.
On Wednesday, Barros, a nurse who lives in Dorchester, spoke to a crowd of more than 150 people who gathered at St. Peter’s Catholic Charities Teen Center to discuss a recent spate of violence that has Boston’s Cape Verdean community on edge.
Many at the meeting, which was organized by Cape Verdean Community UNIDO, Boston police, and local community leaders, said they were unsettled by two fatal shootings last week. On Tuesday, a man was killed by a masked gunman inside a Dorchester barbershop, and the next day a man was fatally shot on Payson Avenue.
Barros said Monadnock Street, where she lives, is known for gang violence. Some of her relatives go to the barbershop where the man was killed, she said. She implored the community not to blame police or City Hall, saying “thugs” were to blame for the violence. She said she would avoid walking down certain streets.
“There’s been a lot of violence recently,” she said after addressing the crowd. “I try not to find myself near those hot spots.”
Catia Mendes, 33, of Dorchester, called for more community engagement from police officers. She said the department’s gang unit “does what it can” but that she wanted to see more uniformed patrolmen get out of their cars and talk to young people.
“If you’re going to patrol with fear, you’re going to get bad results,” she said outside the meeting. “If you patrol with your heart and love for the community, you’re going to get that back.”
She said there is multigenerational pain in the community from violence and trauma “that was never dealt with.”
“I’m no longer burying friends and classmates, I’m burying kids I used to baby-sit,” she said.
Domingos DaRosa, a 40-year-old from Dorchester who owns a small construction business and is running for City Council, said there have been dozens of shootings in Dorchester’s Cape Verdean community this summer.
He wants police to install video cameras on certain streets to deter crime.
“I’m always sick of the violence,” he said.
Boston police Superintendent-in-Chief William G. Gross said he appreciated the constructive criticism, saying the honest comments were “refreshing.” But he urged people not to fall victim to the “antipolice sentiment” that he said exists across the country.
“If we get out of the car, would you be willing to come up and talk to us so we get to know you?” he asked.Danny McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.