Vernon ``Peewee" Cobb Jr., 20, made a personal decision two months ago, upon his release from the Nashua Street Jail, to turn his life around, said Andre J. Norman, who runs the Leadership Academy of Boston. Cobb enrolled in the program, which is affiliated with Project RIGHT in Roxbury, Norman said.
``He convinced me he wanted to do something different, and it's not easy to convince me," Norman said. ``He had been staying home working on his attitude, that was his core thing."
Late Tuesday, Cobb became the city's latest fatal victim of a shooting. He was shot multiple times while riding a bicycle home from his aunt's house on Intervale Street near Magnolia Street in Dorchester, police said. He was killed instantly, his body slumped over the bike he had borrowed from a friend, witnesses said.
His death helped thrust Boston into its deadliest period this year, with five gun homicides in the past seven days and a trail of shootings that have bloodied porches, sidewalks, and streets from Mattapan to Roxbury.
Last night, police said a man was shot multiple times in a Roxbury barbershop. The victim, who was not identified, was reported to be in stable condition, and police were investigating whether a gun found behind the business was used in the attack. Police had made no arrests last night in that shooting or in the latest killings.
``He was my baby brother," said Cobb's sister, Jernell McCray-Cobb, 27, tears rolling down her cheeks early yesterday as she sat on a wall on the blood-stained sidewalk where her brother died. A memorial erected on a bare flower bed behind the wall included a fluffy white teddy-bear, two candles, 18 pink plastic roses and a small picture frame with the hand-scrawled inscription ``R.I.P. peewee."
The Cobb homicide was preceded by the shooting deaths of Antoine Perkins, 20, of Mattapan; Analicia Perry, 20, of the South End; Hilary Page Green, 20, of Dorchester; and Gardy Joseph, 34, of Mattapan. Joseph, the first death in the spree, was shot and killed on July 19 outside his home. A day before his death, an unidentified man was shot in the head at Morton and Leston Streets, just two blocks away, but survived.
Two men who were shot during the Green homicide early Friday on Dorchester Avenue remained in critical condition yesterday.
Boston police Superintendent Robert Dunford said four of the homicides appear to have resulted from feuding in two different groups. ``They're not really sure what the feuds are about, and they're asking themselves why are they doing this," Dunford said.
He said police will continue to concentrate on the areas where the shootings are happening, increasing coordination between anticrime detectives and other specialized units.
Residents living in a sand-colored apartment building that was the backdrop to the Cobb homicide said a few teenagers were chatting while standing on the sidewalk when as many as 10 shots rang out. Several witnesses said they saw a gray-colored sedan with tinted windows drive off in reverse, west on Intervale toward Blue Hill Avenue, after someone inside the vehicle released a fusillade that shattered car windows and made small craters in the wall near 128 Intervale St.
Cobb had grown up in the neighborhood, but his mother recently moved to the Codman Square section of Dorchester, his sister said. Cobb often visited his aunt, who lives on Intervale Street . He was there Tuesday night, eating hamburger and corn-on-the-cob, she said. He stayed for a couple of hours, then jumped on his bike and headed east on Intervale, she said. En route, he ran into friends, one of whom was grazed in the hand by the gunfire, the victim's mother said.
McCray-Cobb said her brother had been trying to get his act together. She said she did not know who would target him. ``He was mixed up in the wrong things, and it caught up with him," she said. ``But when he got out, he was trying to change."
Emmett Folgert, director of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, said funding for intervention programs is urgently needed.
``We went through this before in the late '80s and early '90s," he said, ``and if you look back on those days, we had meetings in each neighborhood between the stakeholders -- the police, youth centers, and businesses -- about what we can do."