Remembrances at the shooting site. Photo by Pete Stidman
Neighbors say it is a "neutral street," a place where others from all parts of the surrounding neighborhood congregate to hang and drink or smoke. But that crossing of paths on Elder Street near Uphams Corner ended in tragedy during the wee hours of Sunday morning, in a shooting spree that took the life of a 19-year-old mother. Four others survived gunshot wounds in the melee.
"Everyone from every neighborhood comes here, we don't got problems with no one," said one young man who knew the victim, Alexandra 'Xanda' Gomes, and lives nearby. "A lot of people come around with their problems, though, and she was an innocent bystander."
Police first came to Elder Street just after 1 a.m., responding to calls for loud music and people blocking the street. They arrested one man, under 21 years old, who refused to move his car, which was blocking the street. After a search of the car, police discovered a bottle of vodka, and the young man was charged with having an open container in his car and arrested. Police also told the crowd to quiet down.
"Saturday night became a little less than routine a couple hours later," said police spokesman James Kenneally.
At around 2:24 a.m. on Sunday, police responded to the scene after they received phone calls from neighbors reporting shots fired. The police department's Shot Spotter, a system designed to hear and locate gunfire, was not mentioned in the report, said Kenneally, and no estimate of how many shots were fired or what type of gun or guns were used is being made public.
By the time the police arrived, all five victims were already en route to local hospitals, presumably in private cars.
Gomes was pronounced dead at the Boston Medical Center. Two other victims, reportedly an 18-year-old woman Gomes's sister and a 30-year-old man, were treated for gunshot wounds there, according to police. Two other victims arrived and were treated at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Mission Hill. Both were males, ages 20 and 23. All are expected to survive.
Family and friends were still circulating in and out of the Gomes family home on Glendale Street on Monday, though they asked a reporter to be left alone.
"I don't want to help with your statistics, talking about how we had 60 people killed last year and 53 people this year," said one woman who was angered by coverage in Boston's daily press. She identified herself only as a family-member. "An innocent person was killed. That's all. It's a tough time."
Gomes's page on Myspace.com pictured her with her one-year-old daughter Niylah, and anonymous posters to the page vowed to watch out for the toddler. The girl's father also lives in the neighborhood, according to local youth workers, and has participated in local youth programs in the past.
"I don't know what 2 do without u I could play a father to Niylah but never a good mother like you," wrote one anonymous post on the website. "I can't believe this. U told me U was gonna be back in an hour but you never did... I guess god need u more than me. Love U 'N I hope I see U soon."