The Columbus Day murder of Ciaran Conneely — who was apparently accosted by a gunman as he approached the door of his Nahant Avenue apartment building on Saturday night— comes on the heels of another broad daylight outrage— the murder of 16-year-old Javion Blake, who was shot, along with a second teenager, on Geneva Avenue on Sept. 25. Two more men — who have not yet been identified— were also slain this week, in Uphams Corner and in Mattapan Square. The murder toll in Dorchester to date this year is now 23.
Conneely’s murder is the latest grim reminder that even on our best of days, this neighborhood is home to a small minority of killers who share our sidewalks and subway cars. They are out there and their cravenness and cruelty know no bounds.
The Nahant Avenue murder has touched a nerve in the immediate Adams Corner neighborhood for good reason. Gunplay there is rare, but anxieties are up that robberies — and the accompanying specter of gun violence— loom as persistent threats.
Adding to the alarm is the fact that Conneely was the second victim of the night in the immediate neighborhood near Adams Corner, according to Boston Police. At around 10:20 p.m., a young woman was accosted by two teenagers, one of whom brandished a handgun, who demanded her purse and cell phone. The robbery happened on Ashmont Street near the corner of Train Street — just a block or so away from the murder scene. (Police say they don’t know yet if the crimes are related.)
The last time a person was shot to death in such a manner in the vicinity of Nahant Avenue was in February 1990 when 15-year-old Robert Noble was gunned down on Ashmont Street — steps away from Sunday’s armed robbery. Noble, an Adams Corner little leaguer, was walking back from a vacation week excursion to Boston Bowl with a pal when the pair were accosted by a 17-year-old sociopath with a gun, who then shot the young Noble in the head over some pocket change and a gold chain.
Eight years later, the Boston Police Cold Case Squad announced that they had found the shooter — sort of.
Fernando Gomes was from Fields Corner and he’d been on a crime spree in the days before he crossed paths with Rob Noble. He had burglarized an Allston leather store and taken a pot-shot at a Boston University student on Commonwealth Ave. On this particular February night, he was cruising alone in his father’s car along Morrissey Boulevard when it started to run low on gas.
His pockets were as empty as his tank, but he had a gun. So Gomes pulled over and started walking, looking to rob the first unfortunate person he came across. Gomes met his own fate two years later in New York City. He was gunned down by rival drug dealers.
This week’s murder has sent ominous vibrations through the immediate neighborhood. It has to do mainly with the fact that gun crimes are not a common occurrence in Adams Corner or Neponset. But, it’s also about the random nature of a street robbery, committed so brazenly and with such callous and cold-blooded consequences.
At times like these, we have to lean on each other and remember that we as a community have been here before and recovered. We’re a better, much safer place overall than we were in 1990, when 152 people died violent deaths in our city.
But we also have to be honest and acknowledge that there are murderers in our midst. They mean us harm and if we’re to survive as a viable city neighborhood, we can’t allow this deadly drumbeat to be a familiar sound to our ears.