Woolson Street, In Anguish, Wonders Whether More Police Would Help



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BOSTON — Boston police are looking all over the city for the shooters who killed four people, including a toddler, in Mattapan early Tuesday morning. The Rev. Eugene Rivers says the shootings have the feel of an execution. Police say a fifth victim is not expected to survive.

Neighbors Recall The Gunshots

Woolson Street is one block away from the bustle of Morton Street. It’s a neighborhood of triple deckers in vinyl siding or in need of paint. Lawns grow unmowed behind chain link fences that catch the litter. Early Tuesday, people were still awake. John Vital was working on a project for school.

Before these latest shootings, Mattapan had seen homicides more than double in the first nine months of this year over last, from six to 14.

“That’s when I heard the first shot, and I heard a couple more after that. And I’m like, ‘this is not normal,’ so I called the police,” Vital said.

Another neighbor who did not want to give her name out of fear of retaliation said normally, the gunshots sound like firecrackers, but somehow, these sounded different, louder.

“I did hear a lot of shots and I heard that last shot,” she said.

Ralph Myrthil was at his computer at his house on Willowood Street.

“And I sit down on my laptop checking my e-mails, my Facebook page, and suddenly I heard some noise, like almost six shots — boom, boom, boom — and I went out to see what’s going on and by the time I walk at No. 40 Woolson,  I heard a car driving so fast on Woolson Street and turn left by the church, Morning Star Church and I saw two people on the floor, laying down on the floor, without no clothes, naked,” Myrthil said.

“I said: ‘What’s going on here?’ My heart started beating so hard, and at the same time the police arrived. All I saw, people on the floor, laying down, lay there [and] only after a few minutes, they die.”

The crime scene was so large several blocks were cordoned off.

One police officer who saw the carnage said it was very hard to take. Like other neighbors, Myrthil is wondering if he should leave the area.

Increased Crime Worries Residents

Boston Police detectives search for evidence after a pre-dawn shooting Tuesday, Sept. 28. (AP)

“If I have to move [to] another place, because my son, 7 years old, can’t stay here anymore, I have to move out of this area,” Myrthil said.

“This is not safe, because, sir, not too long ago, right there, on Sutton Street, one guy shot to death. Eight days after that five people got shot. This is sad situation, my friend.”

Myrthil said shootings in the neighborhood have increased since the Caribbean Carnival last month.

“What happened is some people moving in. We don’t know them. We don’t know where they come from, and they had trouble with other people, and they come here to solve their trouble,” Myrthil said.

“That’s the situation. You rent this place. You coming from somewhere else. We don’t know you. And other people you have trouble with come here to solve the thing.”

Many neighbors, including Vital, say they would like to see more police presence in the neighborhood. But the woman who is afraid to give her name said more police won’t necessarily eliminate the violence.

“I do see the police patrol the areas but they shoot almost right in front of them,”  she said.

“One time, there was a shooting on Norfolk Street, and we heard the rat-tat-tat-tat, and the boy was running down the street, and the police were right around the corner. How bold is that? I could say beef up the patrol, but I see detectives ride up and down the street, and that’s what made me feel kinda safe. I can’t say that they haven’t done their job. I don’t know what else they can do. ”

The woman said this has been the most violent summer she has seen in the neighborhood.

Before these latest shootings, Mattapan had seen homicides more than double in the first nine months of this year over last, from six to 14. Boston had seen an increase from 40 to 50. That makes Boston’s per capita homicide rate almost twice New York’s.

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