Boston Officials Question Spike In Murder Cases
ARI SHAPIRO, host:
Compared to most major cities in the U.S., Boston has traditionally had a relatively low rate of violent crime. But this week, a shocking multiple murder has shaken many Bostonians. People are still trying to figure out who shot and killed four people Tuesday morning, including a two-year-old. A fifth victim remains on life support. Anthony Brooks of member station WBUR has this report.
ANTHONY BROOKS: When police arrived early Tuesday morning in Boston's Mattapan neighborhood, they found five people lying in the street with gunshot wounds. Four of them died that morning including a young mother and her two-year-old child. It looked like the victims had been dragged from a near-by house and shot execution-style. In a city once known as a model for controlling urban violence, the crime was particularly shocking. Here's Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley.
Mr. DAN CONLEY (District attorney, Suffolk County): I think we all share the same horror, the same outrage. There can be no excuse for aiding the person or persons responsible for this horrific crime and for taking the life of this helpless child, among others.
Mayor THOMAS MENINO (Boston): How you doing? Hi, what's your name?
Mayor MENINO: Neville, hi. How are you?
BROOKS: Earlier this week, police, city workers and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino went door to door in the neighborhood where the murders occurred. The goal was to let residents know that the city is there for them, and to urge them to get involved.�
Mayor MENINO: We want you involved because you only have strong neighborhoods when you have the residents involved. All right?
Unidentified Woman: OK. Thank you.
Mayor MENINO: Thank you much.
Unidentified Woman: Thanks.
Mayor MENINO: Thank you.
Commissioner ED DAVIS (Boston Police Department): This helps, because people feel unsettled.
BROOKS: This is Boston police commissioner, Ed Davis.
Commissioner DAVIS: They're afraid of what happened. They need to be reassured. And we're going to do everything we can to make sure that this community feels safe.
Ms. SHARON CALLENDER: This violence isn't necessarily anything new.
BROOKS: Sharon Callender runs a neighborhood violence prevention program in Mattapan. She says the murders have left many here badly shaken.�
Ms. CALLENDER: When it hits home, it has a deeper impact. And, of course, no child should be killed like this, because it's always a question of why my child, and why did this happen to them?
BROOKS: But the Reverend Eugene Rivers, who's been involved with efforts to reduce youth violence in Boston since the early '90s, says these killings do represent something new.�
Reverend EUGENE RIVERS (Youth Violence Activist): That execution of those four people was a game changer. How we understood violence 15 years ago no longer works when they are summarily executing people in ways that remind one of Mexico or Colombia.
BROOKS: Rivers says city leaders need new ways to combat this new kind of violence. But David Kennedy with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice disagrees. Kennedy helped craft Boston's successful response to youth violence in the '90s, which included a coordinated approach between law enforcement and neighborhood groups to target gangs. It worked 15 years ago, and was part of the so-called Boston Miracle. And Kennedy says it's still working.�
Professor DAVID KENNEDY (John Jay College of Criminal Justice): And before this latest uptick in Boston, things were, in fact, all moving in the right direction. There is no absolute vaccination against any of this yet, and truly awful things continue to happen.
BROOKS: Overall, violent crime in Boston has been decreasing in recent years. Lately, though, there's been a spike in murders. Compared with this time last year, they're up by almost a third. But Boston police Commissioner Ed Davis doesn't regard this as a new kind of crime, even with the murder of a child.�
Commissioner DAVIS: But when we get to the final motive, you know, it's going to be the same motive that we've seen over and over. It's going to involve gangs. It's going to involve drugs. It's going to be one of those things that just shows that some people are willing to do anything to make money for themselves.
BROOKS: This week's shootings were the city's deadliest since 2005, when four young men were gunned down in a Boston recording studio. It took police five months to solve that crime.
For NPR News, I'm Anthony Brooks in Boston.
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