Crime rates dropped, but youth killings tore at security

The drumbeat of gun violence on the streets of Dorchester and Mattapan continued this year. It was particularly pronounced on the Area B-3 police district, which has recorded 22 homicides so far this year, the most of any district in the city. Area C-11 -which covers the eastern side of the neighborhood - saw a drop in murders from last year - from 16 in '06 to 10 so far in '07.

If the new year arrives without further bloodshed, the homicide rate for '07 citywide will be an improvement over the '06 numbers. But, as one veteran cop told one of our reporters this year, many of the more serious shootings across the city could have easily become fatal, if not for the heroic work of EMTs and medical professionals, particularly at Boston Medical Center.

But, even a city with the finest doctors in the world could not save many of the victims this year.

On March 24, a Kentucky tourist who visited a Geneva Avenue house party after a chance encounter with Boston natives at a downtown nightclub, was shot and killed when a shootout erupted outside the party. Chiara Levin's murder drew national attention and, about a month later, two local men - Manuel Andrade, 34, and Casimiro Barros, 21 -were arrested and charged in the crime.

The Levin case prompted the New York-based Guardian Angels to descend on Boston for the first time in more than a decade. After initially resisting their help, city officials eventually met with the Angels and asked them to keep a focused eye on Ronan Park.

In April, Boston Police detectives caught up to a suspect wanted in one of the neighborhood's most notorious killings. Arnaldo Lopes, 28, had been on the run since he allegedly murdered Bobby Mendes in Uphams Corner in 1995. Police have long pointed to that homicide as the beginning of a bloody feud within the Cape Verdean community.

In May, a civilian employee of the Boston Police Dept., Sharon Fitzpatrick, was herself charged for the murder of her husband, 40 year-old Sylvester Mitchell, who was slain in their Evans Street home.

In June, an attack on 41 year-old Lower Mills man Michael Hansbury, allegedly by a group of teens on Monson St., resulted in his death several days later. In November, police arrested an unidentified 15 year-old boy, who has been charged with manslaughter in the case.

Police quickly caught up with murder suspect Patrick Mayhew, 20, who has been charged with the June 21st shooting death of Joseph Smith, 39, on Nottingham St. And homicide detectives made two arrests in the May 15th slaying of Cordeiro Andrade, 20, on Ames Street.

An early morning armed robbery at the Stalex Pizza shop on Norfolk St. ended with the shooting death of shop-keeper Mimin Manavoglu, 45, on Nov. 1. Boston Police quickly arrested Gary Johnson, 18, near the scene.

The city's youngest homicide victim of the year was 8 year-old Laquarrie Jefferson, who was shot accidentally by a cousin who fire a firearm he found in the Jefferson home on Seaver St.last June.

Other atrocities on local streets garnered less attention and remain unsolved.

The New Year's morning shooting of Jason Fernandes, 14, of Brockton, happened outside a party at Clarkson St. and Hamilton St. Also in January, neighbors found the body of Warren Daniel Hairston, a Roxbury man who had just been reported missing by his family, outside of a house on Dewey St. Police believe he was dumped at the site after being shot.

On March 6, 18 year-old Quintessa Blackwell was gunned down as she walked in broad daylight on Olney St. near the Holland Elementary School, just off of Geneva Avenue. There have been no arrests.

On May 22, a group of six or seven teens attacked a 16 year-old boy, Terrance Jacobs , who was stabbed to death in the incident on Havelock Street. No arrests have been made.

In June, the body of Mariotis Harris, a 16 year-old boy from Lorna Road, was discovered in a wooded area at the end of his street called the Gladeside Urban Wild. Harris, it seems, had been led into the woods and shot in the back of the head. There have been no arrests and virtually no information has been disseminated about the murder since June.

Tia Francis, 20, was evidently caught in the wrong place at the wrong time in September. Francis, a college student, was outside her relatives' home on Gladeside Ave. - not far from the spot where Mariotis Harris was found dead in June - when police say two hooded gunman ambushed another group of people on the corner, two doors down from the Francis family's house. Three men were wounded in the attack, which Boston Police have said was gang related. No arrests have been made in the case.

The October 5th murder of 13 year-old Steven Odom near his Evans St. home outraged the region. Odom's parents spoke out passionately about their loss and called on city and state officials to do more to respond to youth violence. Police have said that Odom was not the intended target, but there have been no arrests or suspects named.

Other unresolved murders this past year include those of Andrew Keith, 21, shot to death on Feb. 21 at Columbia Road and Devon Street; Jova Guidroz, 27, shot and killed on Armandine St. on Feb. 27;

James Williams, 24, shot to death on March 28 near the corner of Blue Hill Avenue and Talbot Avenue; Dwayne Graham, 18, shot to death on March 30 at Columbia Rd. & Washington St.; James Jacobs, 27, shot to death on McLellan St. on March 30; Jamille Parker, 29, stabbed to death on April 25 in front of 1258 Blue Hill Avenue;

Hostene Isaacs, 39, killed June 3 on Leroy St.; Calvin Alexander, 48, found shot to death on Sept. 17 at 23 Shandon Road; Huynh Vu Thanh, 33, beaten and killed on Sept. 18 outside 144 Westfield Street; Charles Bunch, 18, shot to death on Oct. 14 outside of 10 Orlando Street in Mattapan; Denise Ledbetter, 39, shot to death outside of 231 Talbot Ave. on Oct. 16; Miguel Perez, 22, shot in the head on Oct. 20 in front of 225 Bowdoin St.; Nicholas R. Copeland, 20, found shot in a car on Westville St. on Oct. 26; Adolphus King, 54,shot to death on Nov. 20, at 4 Beale St.