One man was killed and three others injured in four separate Dorchester shootings Friday night into Saturday morning, including a gun battle that played out before the startled eyes of police officers patrolling the dawn J’ouvert Parade.
Police Commissioner William G. Gross condemned the bloodshed that took place so close to the site of the annual Caribbean Carnival Parade, which kicked off early Saturday afternoon, about five hours after the J’ouvert Parade began the carnival festivities.
Gross rejected the idea that the violence may be related to the celebration.
“This is from parties before and parties afterward. This has nothing to do with the festival,” Gross told the Globe just before the Carnival Parade kicked off. “This is a family event. It should be known as a family event.”
The unidentified man who died was shot in the area of 91 Westview St. about 3:40 a.m. Saturday and taken to a local hospital, police said.
“We don’t believe that this is a random act of violence at all,” Gross said at a news conference outside police headquarters Saturday afternoon.
Gross said the city has had 27 homicides this year compared to 35 at this time last year.
The three other men were shot near Harambee Park throughout the night, Gross said.
About 11:10 p.m. Friday, a man was shot near 73 Stratton St., police said, and at 4:07 a.m., a man was shot near 868 Blue Hill Ave. Both were taken to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
At 8:31 a.m., a man was shot near 15 Talbot Ave. in a brazen gun battle that began shortly after the J’ouvert Parade turned the corner onto Blue Hill Avenue, Gross said.
As police and street sweepers cleaned up after the parade, “two men who had no regard for anyone actually started to shoot each other in the presence of police officers,” Gross said. “One was wounded. One was arrested. We have two firearms recovered.”
“They knew we were right there,” Gross said. “It seems a different mind-set than the days of yore.”
The wounded man also had non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to a hospital, he said.
In the annual early-morning celebration of J’ouvert, some participants wear headpieces with horns and masks, cover themselves with black paint and oil, and dance through the city streets.
Gross said it was not immediately clear if any of the shootings were related.
On Westview Street, police were still investigating the fatal shooting on Saturday afternoon. A truck marked Crime Scene Response was at the scene, and several plainclothes officers were present, along with two K-9 teams sniffing the grass inside Harambee Park and the Franklin Field housing development across the street.
Inside the development, residents said they hadn’t heard the gunfire overnight and that someone nearby was playing loud music through the early hours of the morning.
Longtime resident Aracelys Peguero, 47, said her neighborhood is less dangerous than in years past, when shootings seemed to occur almost weekly. But she expressed no surprise that a man had been fatally shot just steps from her front door.
“It’s Dorchester,” Peguero said. “Every day something happens in Dorchester: a shooting, a stabbing, a fire.”
On Stratton Street, neighbors said a party was going on at number 73 when the shots were fired.
“Some kids came out, they were bickering right out here near the car, and they started — you know kids — they started throwing around with each other,” said neighbor Carol Williams, who was standing on her stoop when the shooting happened. “I was just listening to what’s going on, and then I guess the one who was being attacked took out his gun and shot him.”
Williams pointed to a grassy area across the street.
“Whoever got hit ran up to that gap area by the project over there,” she said.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, speaking at the kickoff of the Caribbean parade, agreed with Gross’s assessment that parties surrounding the festival are the source of the violence.
“People out drinking late, early in the morning and fights break out . . . and then sometimes that fight erupts in violence with guns,” Walsh said.
“And certainly that goes back to my point, and the commissioner’s point, of there’s just too many guns in the street,” he continued. “If people didn’t have access to guns, we wouldn’t have the violence we have. We might have fights, but we wouldn’t have gun violence.”
Walsh and Gross said police had confiscated five guns in separate incidents during the time period of the shootings.
The mayor also stressed that the festival is a beloved family event.
“There’s no violence on this parade route,” Walsh said. “This isn’t about hating people; this is about really celebrating.”
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said people involved in the shootings would be prosecuted.
Officers “are working around the clock to get us answers and we will be holding people accountable,” she said at the news conference outside police headquarters.
Rollins, whose family is from Barbados, also dismissed the notion of a connection between the Caribbean Festival and the outbreak of violence.
“Caribbean people, like most immigrants, are incredibly hardworking,” she said. “We’re celebrating our heritage today, and we have been bombarded with calls about shootings and homicides and violence. And that’s not what our community is.”