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Female shooting victim is ID’d; man gunned down in Dorchester

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By Maria Cramer, Brian Ballou, and John M. Guilfoil
Globe Staff / October 26, 2010

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The woman killed in a Roxbury convenience store over the weekend was a 39-year-old mother of four children who had recently thrown her daughter a sweet-16 party, according to a friend and relative.

Two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the case confirmed yesterday that Tahitia Milton of Roxbury was killed Saturday afternoon, when a gunman toting an AK-47 opened fire in a Warren Street convenience store.

Her killing, the 58th in Boston this year, was one of two homicides and seven shootings during a weekend of violence that police believe was motivated primarily by gang feuds and possibly drugs.

The violence continued last night as police began investigating another fatal shooting in Dorchester’s Fields Corner neighborhood.

Superintendent Rafael Ruiz of Boston police said the victim was a 30-year-old man, shot on Geneva Avenue about 8 p.m. and pronounced dead at Boston Medical Center.

Police are investigating a possible gang or drug connection and were searching last night for a black Cadillac Escalade seen leaving the scene. Ruiz did not name or describe any possible suspects, saying that the driver of the sport utility vehicle was being sought for questioning.

Two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the Milton investigation said police are looking into whether the owner of the store, the Quick Stop on Warren Street, was the intended target of the gunman. Police could not say yesterday why Milton was killed.

Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said robbery was not the motive in the shooting.

“There seems to be more of a drug motivation this year than we’ve seen in past years and that is certainly concerning to us,’’ he said, declining to be more specific because of the ongoing investigation.

Milton was inside the Quick Stop about 3 p.m. when the gunman stormed in. The owner of the Quick Stop, who goes by the nickname Mo, was shot but survived. The store was closed yesterday, and the owner could not be reached for comment.

Two law enforcement officials said the shooter was captured on a surveillance camera.

Milton’s cousin, Bob Evans, described her as a college-educated woman who wanted the best for her children. He went by the crime scene yesterday, looking for clues about what happened to Milton.

In Dorchester, outside the Special E FX Hair Studio, the salon’s owner, Erika Dixon, recalled how Milton used to come in with one of her daughters to get their hair done. Milton usually stayed for hours, talking and gossiping with Dixon, who said she had known the victim for 20 years.

“Tahitia shouldn’t have been the one,’’ Dixon said. She said Milton’s family knew something was wrong when they had not heard for hours from Milton, who called her children regularly to check in.

Milton was the third woman killed in four years on the same block of Warren Street, which includes two churches and the headquarters of the Police Department’s SWAT team.

More than 100 people gathered in front of the Quick Stop about 6:30 last night for a candlelight vigil for Milton. The crowd sang and prayed, with one woman leading a loud and passionate prayer. .

The crowd seemed in equal parts angry and sad. None from the crowd would speak to reporters. People shouted for an end to the violence, calling upon each other to take responsibility for the neighborhoods.

“The police don’t live here; we do,’’ one man shouted.

Three hours after Milton was shot, two men were shot on Boylston Street, near Egleston Square.

One of the victims, Luis “Tito’’ Torres, 23, was pronounced dead Sunday at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The man who was with him, who was not identified, survived the shooting, police said.

Last night, workers at Spontaneous Celebrations, a nonprofit in Jamaica Plain where Torres often went for classes and programs, held a vigil for Torres at the Egleston Square YMCA Youth Center.

Hours before the vigil, Adrian Rivera, a childhood friend, said Torres had been struggling with the death of his mother about a year ago.

“He went through a lot of tough stuff in his life, and losing his mother was very bad for him,’’ Rivera, 23, said. “He was getting better. He was hooking up with the right people.’’

Torres’s shooting is believed to be gang-related, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation.

Two gangs in Jamaica Plain with a long-running feud have stepped up attacks on each other in recent months, leading to retaliatory shooting, according to the officials. Torres’s death is believed to be connected to that feud, the officials said.

Last night, Ruiz said gang violence in Boston has been on the upswing, partly because of the economy.

The weekend’s shootings all took place Saturday. The violence began at 2 a.m., when two men were shot outside the Breezeway Bar and Grill, a popular restaurant and nightclub on Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury. Both men survived.

Davis said police are investigating the motive behind the first shooting. But he said that the Breezeway has often been the scene of violence, including other shootings, and is also a focus of complaints from neighbors.

“It’s destroying the quality of life for the good people that live in that area,’’ Davis said of the club.

He said police plan to call on the city’s Licensing Board to take away the Breezeway’s entertainment and liquor licenses, which would prevent the bar from playing music and serving alcohol.

Later Saturday, about 4:30 p.m., police rushed to Geneva Avenue in Dorchester to respond to a shooting. They found a male victim inside an apartment on nearby Everton Street with a gunshot wound to his foot, according to a police report.

A law enforcement official with knowledge of the case said the preliminary investigation indicates the wound was self-inflicted. No one has been arrested, police said.

Kevin Cullen and John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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