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

A Boston police officer speaks to a Mattapan neighbor on Tuesday, near the scene of an early morning shooting in which five people, including a toddler, were shot. (AP)

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.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • Hardy Kornfeld

    Cutting the sales tax will make it harder to get more police on the street where they are needed. I suppose the Libertarian/Tea Party solution is to encourage more citizens to arm themselves. I would rather pay taxes as the reasonable cost of maintaining civilization.

  • mo

    Stop the lying and fear mongering.

  • afraid

    If we vote to “Get Government out of Our lives” as all these millionaire politicians with their private homes far from areas like this suggest, we will have anarchy. thugs will rule like in Somalia. Government should be encouraged by voters to create safety and prevent starvation, violence , unregulated corporations that pollute uncontrolably etc. Obama is trying hard to create a better country. The tea party types and the corporations that back them are an alternative to government which is much worse. Thats why Amsterdam or paris are safer than Manilla or Congo….because they have democratic governments that are oriented to provide safety for people.

  • http://wbur.org franc

    Sad to say but as long as people can get rich from selling crack-and oh yes many do-these incidents will happen more and more. Its not helping that movies and music romanticize the lifestyle either. Of course politicians and police will get the blame, not the killers. They’re victims too, afterall.

  • TRUTH

    what should worry residents is that they only come out when another, and another incident happens.

    WHERE R THE RESIDENTS WHEN CRIME IS HAPPENING BEFORE THIE EYES.

    WAKE UP AND CLEAN DEM GULLIES

  • TRUTH

    THEY R NOT GETTING RICH FROM SELLING CRACK….THEY USUALLY TURN BEST CUSTOMER.

    WHEN THE KING FISH TAKE DEM UP AND SEND DEM OFF TO THE BIG WHOLE.

    MANY DON;T HAVE CANTEEN TO LAST FOR ONE MONTH.

    RICH….HAHAHHAHHA

  • TRUTH

    SAFETY IS BEING PROVIDED……THE THUGS HAVE TAKEN OVER OUR STREETS.

    IF THE RESIDENTS DON’T AND WON’T SPEAK UP…..WHY SHOULD KING FISH

  • Kingcheko360

    Our communities must stand up to this violence. the Boston Police is afraid of these kids with guns, there fore we must take charge of our own safety. Lets no longer wait on Menino, the commisioner or deval patrick to make a change LETS HEAL THE HOOD. If we can educate the youth about this nonsense while giving them another chance in life we can do it!!!

  • Left that place a while ago

    The police presence does help, however, there needs to be more police as well as resident involvement. The number of churches on each street block (sometimes, 2-3) and the amount of crime that goes on in inner city neighborhoods. What there needs to be is more jobs for the youth, within the city, more outreach from churches, and a collaboration between residents, faith-based institutions, schools as well as the police. Another thing, residents need to be forced to repair and clean up their property and yards… if the place you live in looks like a dumping ground, no one will respect it. There is one AMvet establishment on the corner of Fessenden and Blue Hill, where you see people shooting up crack and snorting cocaine in broad open day light. The stay open from sunrise to sundown. Half the people who go into the establishment, probably aren’t even veterans. Places like this need to be shut down, bad things happen in broad open day light for anyone to see it, and the police just look the other way…

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