Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis told a roomful of merchants and civic leaders last week that he remains confident that the new year will see a continued drop in violent crime in Dorchester, despite a bloody January that has seen five homicides in District C-11 alone, including three last week. Davis huddled with about 40 community leaders and other law enforcement officers in a unique mid-day meeting last Friday at the C-11 police station on Gibson Street.
The meeting was organized by the two Main Streets organizations along Dorchester Avenue - Fields Corner and St. Mark's Area - which have each seen a murder on their stretch of the avenue this month. Davis blamed the recent surge in shootings in Dorchester and other neighborhoods on escalating gang "disputes" and outlined, in broad strokes, the motives behind the killings.
"To have that stuff happening here is not a pleasant feeling," Davis told the assembly. "It doesn't make you feel any safer, but there is not a burgeoning crime wave happening."
Davis explained that police had begun a sweep of arrests that were targeting people "in neighborhoods that are producing the violent behavior." By Saturday, Boston Police announced that the sweep had netted roughly 80 arrests, four firearms and quantities of illicit drugs.
Davis said on Friday that the purpose of the sweep was to send a message, but also to gather new intelligence on recent violence.
"We're not simply arresting them, but we're briefing them and developing new sources," Davis said. "We've got substantial leads in the last 24 hours and I'm confident they will be cleared by arrest."
Davis provided some new details on a pair of shooting deaths that shook the Dorchester Avenue corridor in the last two weeks. The first was the Jan. 7 killing of 18 year-old Darrion Carrington inside the lobby of the Canton House Chinese restaurant at 1728 Dorchester Ave. Davis said that Carrington was apparently stalked by a gunman who followed him into the shop.
"[Carrington] was followed to that location," said Davis. "He was at a function at a different location and someone followed him there."
Davis said police believe that Carrington saw he was being followed and tried to evade his assailant by ducking into the restaurant lobby.
Davis said that investigators now believe they have "significant leads" in the murder, which has apparent links to a subsequent killing in the city's Roslindale section. A 23 year-old Dorchester man, Darrius Jones, was one of three men shot in a car after attending Carrington's Jan. 16 funeral. The two other victims survived that attack.
Davis also addressed the Jan. 12 murder of Tyrone Hicks, 20, who was gunned down on a Saturday afternoon while walking near the corner of Adams and Arcadia streets, just steps from Fields Corner's busy crossroads and a Boston Police officer on a walking patrol.
Captain John Greland said that Hicks was walking with another person, who was not hurt in the attack.
The Jan. 15 murder of 16-year-old Carlos Sierra was also a targeted attack, Davis suggested. He pointed out that Sierra was shot alongside a second individual in the vestibule of a building at 16 Strathcona Road. The other person was not harmed, although it has been reported that Sierra was shot as many as 12 times.
Sierra, Davis said, had "just moved into that neighborhood" and "the family, we believe, was involved in drug activity at their last address."
Another, non-fatal shooting incident last Wednesday afternoon that left a man in his late-twenties wounded on Topliff Street was also discussed. Davis said that the incident has been linked to an ongoing feud between residents at a particular house on Topliff Street and another group from nearby Ridgewood Street.
"There's clearly a back and forth between people who live very close to one another, who are literally jumping over the fence to shoot at each other," Davis explained.
"This is a very small group of people who, if you insult them, the way they respond is to use violence, an eye for an eye," Davis said.
When pressed by Ashmont Hill activist and meeting facilitator Roseanne Foley on whether or not all of these incidents are actually "gang-related," Davis suggested that they likely were.
"We certainly have a real gang problem. This significant violence that is occurring is occurring because of gangs," Davis said.
Edward Crowley, a longtime Fields Corner resident, said he does not feel that the area is unsafe.
"If [the Hicks] shooting happened four blocks away in either direction, this meeting wouldn't be happening," said Crowley. "You weren't going to stop it. It was an opportune moment for someone to shoot someone they wanted.
"I'm not afraid to go to work. People cannot be fearful to go to the avenue," said Crowley. "The media is very unkind."
"If you were to read the columnists today, you'd think there is no hope. I can't operate like that. We know how to do it. There's more of us than there are of them.
"The trends are going in the right direction, in spite of this surge in violence," David added.