Violent crime is down citywide, but Andy Barros would say the numbers are up in Bowdoin-Geneva, where he co-owns a bar on Bowdoin Street called Gigi's Palace. Recent events have made Barros, a father of five, fearful for his life. The bar may be sold or relocated.
"It's a very tough decision," said Barros sitting on one of his barstools at Gigi's. A widescreen-TV in the back is belting out the news in Portugeuse, and a small crowd of older Cape Verdean men is gathering at one end of the bar. "These are my father's customers. It's the young kids that (expletive) it up around here. How do you win when these people don't value life?"
Looking down from a shelf behind the bar is Adriano "Gigi" Barros, Andy Barros' father. Michael Hardy murdered the elder Barros in 1992, a sick revenge for Barros throwing him out of his Harvard Street liquor store earlier the same evening. At right: Gigi's Palace owner Andy Barros. Photo by Pete Stidman
That past echoed into the wee hours of Saturday, Oct. 20, when Andy Barros stopped 22-year-old Miguel Perez who had just walked into Gigi's Palace. Barros told Perez to leave. He suspected Perez of being connected to a shooting that happened earlier that month.
Moments after Perez left, shots rang out. Police later found Perez dead on the scene. His killer escaped.
On the following Monday, threats were found, scrawled on the façade of the bar above a makeshift shrine to Perez. One reportedly said: "Andy is as good as dead." Police recovered fragments of a bullet in Gigi's front door.
"I'm like a target out there right now, because I didn't let this kid inside the bar," said Barros. "If I had let him in, I don't know if the person would have come inside the bar and endangered not only my life, but everybody's inside the bar."
Barros put in for a police detail, and has for years, but Boston Police Department policy doesn't' require officers to take details.
"Here you are in a gun-ho type of area and no cops want to come around," said Barros. "When I pick up the phone and call, they are there like that [he snaps his fingers], but when I need that officer here to do some good business instead of closing at eight or nine o'clock, I can't get it."
Barros said even private security companies won't come. If the Barros' do decide to move out or sell, the space will definitely not remain a bar, said Barros.
"I know the headaches involved," he said. "I wouldn't put that on anybody."