Kevin Cullen

Held captive by violence

By Kevin Cullen
Globe Columnist / June 8, 2010

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Her name is Precious.

“Like the movie,’’ she said.

She has two kids, one of them a girl named Bella, born just three weeks ago, the other a boy named King who is 4 years old.

“I named him after Dr. King,’’ she said.

If Martin Luther King had a dream, Precious has a nightmare: she’s sitting on the stoop outside her apartment building on Creston Street in Grove Hall and she hears gunfire and her son is playing nearby and she can’t get to him.

So she stays inside. She won’t let her son play outside, and when Bella’s old enough to walk, she’ll be walking inside, not outside on Creston Street.

“I heard the gunshots the other night, when they shot that little girl,’’ she said. “Then I heard her daddy crying.’’

The 10-year-old was shot in the leg, a bullet meant for someone else.

Coming on the heels of a pair of 14-year-old boys being summarily executed seemingly for being kids in poor neighborhoods, the prospect of a 10-year-old Boston girl being merely wounded by gunfire was treated as something of a relief.

For Precious and the other young mothers on Creston Street, whose children are held hostage by young men who use guns to settle any and all disputes, the wounding of the girl was the latest reminder that ordinary people who live in this neighborhood can do little but get lucky whenever the bullets start flying.

From the spot where that 10-year-old girl was shot in the leg Friday night, you can walk 100 yards up to Blue Hill Avenue, hang a right and quickly stand in Jermaine Goffigan Park. It is named for a 9-year-old boy who was shot to death after he finished trick-or-treating on Halloween 16 years ago.

Eight years ago, another 10-year-old girl, this one named Trina Persad, was playing in Jermaine Goffigan Park and she was shot in the face with a shotgun. Trina Persad, victim of gang crossfire, died in a park named for a victim of gang crossfire.

The boys who shot Trina Persad were part of the gang that hung around Magnolia and Intervale streets. They were gunning for another gang, the Big Head Boyz, that hangs around, among other places, Creston Street.

These streets are part of a small maze sandwiched between Blue Hill Avenue and Columbia Road.

Eight years after Trina Persad died by gunfire meant for someone else, it almost happened again, just a few hundred yards away, the same combination of ignorance and testosterone and guns, guns, guns.

The cops think Friday’s shooting of the 10-year-old girl had something to do with the killing of Terrence Kelley a week before. Kelley, all of 18, fell in a hail of bullets unleashed at 2 in the afternoon, as kids headed home from school. Kelley was shot in front of 24 Creston St., across from 25 Creston, where the girl was shot a week later.

The cops believe the intended targets were the 10-year-old’s brothers, but the boys aren’t talking to the police.

Four years ago, in the middle of the afternoon, somebody drove by in a car and shot up the stoop at 25 Creston St., wounding a man and two girls, 15 and 16.

Precious used to live at 25 Creston. But, last November, she moved a half-block down the street.

Yesterday, Precious made her daily venture out of the apartment, up to the Estrella’s Grocery on the corner. It’s 64 footsteps.

She wheeled Bella back home, tentatively, in a carriage, festively decorated in pink.

“I really think I’ve got to move again,’’ she said. “I can’t keep my kids locked up forever. I’ve got to move. Away from here.’’

Precious tugged the baby carriage up the front stairs and used a key to open the front door.

“We’re in for the night,’’ she said, letting the door lock behind her.

It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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