Lower Mills residents demand action after assault of longtime resident results in his death
The death earlier this month of a lifelong Lower Mills resident has incensed neighbors there who see a clear connection between the incident and what they say is an increase in intimidating juvenile delinquency.
Michael Hansbury, 41, left his home on Monson Street around 11 p.m. on June 5 to diffuse a dispute between several teenagers on the sidewalk outside his home when someone in the crowd struck him in the face. Minutes later, Boston Police officers who responded to a 911 call found him on the sidewalk, bleeding and unconscious. He was taken to Boston Medical Center, where on June 13 he succumbed to his injuries.
The night of the attack, police in district B-3 received an anonymous tip that led to the arrest of several teenagers at a nearby Sanford Street address that neighbors say has been the source of chronic disturbances in recent months. But, no arrests have been made in connection with the murder, and the investigation is ongoing. Update: A Boston Police spokesperson said this week that the death has not yet been ruled a homicide. That classification could come with the release of a report from the Medical Examiner's office next week.
"Police are actively investigating information received from community members relative to a group of teens that have been causing trouble," said Elaine Driscoll, a police spokeswoman, acknowledging that police are aware that neighbors see a connection between the murder and a specific group of intimidating teenagers. "There are a handful of individuals that the police are looking into."
At a meeting of the Lower Mills Civic Association on Tuesday night, an emotional crowd of over 100 people, including members of the Hansbury family, asked why there has not been more progress in a case that they see as so clearly connected to a specific group of troublemaking teenagers.
"We don't want to live in fear of these people and also they need help, and they should have supervision from adults," said one woman, who lives on the same street as a home that was identified by many attendees as the spot where the teenagers congregate. She asked that her name not be used.
B-3 Captain James Claibourne acknowledged that the group of teenagers in question were at the center of the investigation, but asked residents to be patient while a solid case is built against the perpetrator.
"Six men live there. As to which one did it, that's the case we need to build," said Claibourne.
Abutters to the Sanford Street home that is at the center of neighborhood scrutiny reported being intimidated by both young residents and friends that come to visit the home, two vicious pit bulls kept in the yard, and even by the adult woman who seems to head the household. Attempts this week by elected officials and the city's Inspectional Services Department to identify the owner of the property have been only partially successful. City records show that the home is owned by the Shawmut Avenue Church, but attempts to contact someone at the church at 600 Shawmut Avenue have been fruitless.
One Sanford Street resident, who asked that her name not be used for fear of retribution, said that for years the home was the parsonage associated with the Shawmut Avenue church. In recent months, the church began using home as a rental property.
In Tuesday's meeting, the home and its occupants were repeatedly blamed for a rash of neighborhood problems.
"[The mother is] worse than the kids. She's threatened to sic her pit bulls on us. She starts things because she knows her kids will back her up," said a neighbor, who asked that her name not be used.
The city's Inspectional Services Department is planning to inspect the property in conjunction with the police department's ongoing investigation, and elected officials vowed at the community meeting to get to the bottom of the property's ownership status.
"In the end, it's a quality of life issue, and we are going to look into how is it that we can get this element out of the neighborhood," said state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry.
Elected officials vowed to return to the community at a second community meeting in several weeks time.
"I think at this horrific stage of things, the only thing we an do is try by the end of the week to figure out what is going on at that home," said City Council President Maureen Feeney. "We need to put an end to this."