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Violence claims a 2d son of activist

Victim, 24, shot in Dorchester

A steady stream of friends and city officials poured yesterday into the home of Isaura Mendes, a Dorchester activist who over the weekend lost a second son to the violence in Boston she has spent a decade fighting.

Mendes's son Alex, 24, was fatally shot Saturday night on Wendover Street, not far from the intersection where her son Bobby was stabbed to death in 1995.

Yesterday Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who has walked with Mendes in her annual march against violence, joined mourners at the family's home on Groom Street, which also carries the name Bobby Mendes Way.

The mayor, visibly upset, had trouble choosing words after the seventh killing in Boston in recent days.

''Is angry the right word? Mad?" said Menino, who spent a half-hour with the family, and who plans to join in the annual Walk for Peace on Sunday. ''Words don't mean anything right now."

Police responded at 10:33 p.m. Saturday after shots were fired on Humphreys and Wendover streets. Alex Mendes, also known to friends and family as Matthew, was found in the hallway of a building on Wendover Street, the victim of an apparent drive-by shooting, according to police, family, and friends.

Neighbors and witnesses said someone firing a semiautomatic weapon chased Mendes down Humphreys and Wendover streets. Numerous bullets pierced the first, second, and third floors of at least two houses on Humphreys Street.

A neighbor, Lessley Moon, said she heard shots and the sound of squealing tires. Later, she saw Isaura Mendes on the street.

''She came outside in her robe," Moon said. ''She was wailing, 'He was shot. My other son.' "

Police did not say whether Alex Mendes died Saturday night or Sunday morning. They said an investigation is underway and declined to comment further.

The youngest of four children of Isaura and Pompilio Mendes, Alex lived with his parents and worked as a security guard at the Citizens Bank in Uphams Corner, his father said.

''This was my last kid," said Pompilio Mendes, 70, in Cape Verdean Creole. ''The youngest. I used to go walking for exercise and he would say 'Daddy, be careful.' He was scared that something would happen to me."

Isaura Mendes, at an afternoon press conference in front of the house, sobbed: ''My son loved life. He wanted to live a long time, to do so much."

Friends began to gather at the Mendes house as early as 9 a.m. By noon, well over 100 people had come with food or prayer, many of them spilling onto the street. Among the visitors were Councilor Chuck Turner, Elias Monteiro of the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corp., John Barros of the Dudley Square Neighborhood Initiative, and friends from the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, an organization created by another mother who lost her son to violence.

Inside the house, family members sat with Isaura Mendes, holding her hand, hugging her, and begging her to try to sleep. She moaned, whispered her son's name repeatedly, and told family that he had been shot in the back.

''We need stronger laws because this is too sad for the mothers," said Maria Cardoso, 45, of Dorchester, whose son, Claudio, was killed in 2003. After leaving the Mendes house, Cardoso was headed to visit the family of another young man killed on nearby Hamilton Street early Saturday. ''Things are getting bad now that I have to visit another kid's mother."

Neighbors said that police came to their homes as late as 1 a.m. Sunday to ask about bullets and shell casings that were found in bedrooms and hallways.

Curtis Collins, 47, showed a Globe reporter the holes left by bullets that went through the front room of his apartment in a three-decker on Humphreys just after 10 p.m. Saturday.

''I had just turned off my computer and was getting ready to go to sleep," said Collins, who doesn't know the Mendes family. ''I heard six, maybe eight rapid shots and then I froze and grabbed my dog, Babyface, and hit the floor. It was so quick."

People at the building closest to where Alex Mendes was found declined to comment. One woman handed a reporter a letter stating that she was ''terrified" to go outside on her block, which has been the site of ''constant shootings," she wrote.

Worshipers at St. Patrick's Church on Blue Hill Avenue, which Isaura Mendes attends, heard about the killing early yesterday, said the Rev. Walter Waldron.

''What's really upsetting is that so much of this is random," said Waldron, who prayed outside with the family and supported Isaura Mendes as she walked to Wendover Street. ''It's like these kids are gifted with absolutely no conscience. Mrs. Mendes tried to reach out to them. She'd get them talking about their situations. She is a preacher of peace. How do you deal with it the second time around?"

Alex Mendes had recently returned from a trip to England, where he had talked to incarcerated youths about the effects of violence, and discovered an affinity for English tea, his father said. Alex Mendes's friends said that he loved his BMW and eating at the nearby Ashley's Restaurant.

''He was cool people," said Zizi Monteiro, 18, who said she had seen Alex Mendes 10 minutes before he was shot. ''He was a clown. Always happy."

Alex Mendes was a member of the Young Cape Verdeans Club at Dorchester's St. Martin dePorres Church, said Bishop Felipe Teixeira, who has known the family for years.

''Everybody admired him," said Teixeira. ''He worked for me for a summer supervising kids a few years ago and did a great job."

Community members have called an emergency neighborhood watch meeting Thursday.

''If the police can't solve the problem of our killing each other, programs and jobs won't solve it either," said Turner. ''The solution has to come from the heart."

Adrienne P. Samuels can be reached at

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