Boy, 4, injured in shooting is stable

Police seeking 2 male teenagers

Officers questioned community members about a shooting at Talbot Avenue and Wales Street in Dorchester. They were looking for two young men who may have fled on motorized dirt bikes. Officers questioned community members about a shooting at Talbot Avenue and Wales Street in Dorchester. They were looking for two young men who may have fled on motorized dirt bikes. (Jessey Dearing for The Boston Globe)
By John M. Guilfoil and Maria Cramer
Globe Staff / June 28, 2011

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A 4-year-old boy was in stable condition last night after being shot in the back by someone who fired into a crowded Dorchester playground, in what police suspect was a gang-related incident.

Police said the shooting erupted about 9:20 p.m. at the Harambee Park Playground, near Talbot Avenue and Wales Street. It initially appeared that at least one person on a motorbike rode up to the scene and fired into the crowd, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

In a press conference at the scene, Superintendent Bruce Holloway said police were looking for at least two males, about 18 years old, with one wearing a white T-shirt, who may have fled on motorized dirt bikes toward Blue Hill Avenue.

The child was with his family when he was hit, Holloway said. Police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said the extent of the boy’s injuries was not clear. An emergency medical services official confirmed that the child was rushed to Boston Medical Center.

A second victim, a man, was grazed in the foot during the shooting. His wound was not serious, said Holloway. He was taken to Carney Hospital, Emergency Medical Services officials said.

After the shooting, police scoured nearby Franklin Field. A line of about two dozen police officers formed and marched down Wales Street, searching for ballistic or other evidence. A large crowd gathered around Talbot Avenue, as police cordoned off the area.

Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis visited the scene. Later, Mayor Thomas M. Menino issued a statement, in which he said his “primary concern tonight is for the young child and his family.’’

“I spoke with the police commissioner this evening, and he assured me that he has every resource possible searching for those responsible,’’ Menino said. “Any gun violence in our city is unacceptable, but when it involves a young child, you can only feel sadness and anger. With the public’s help, we will stop those who seek to bring violence to our neighborhoods.’’

Davis said: “Initial indications are that it’s gang-related. We’re not 100 percent certain on that, but that’s what we believe.’’

There is a group associated with the Franklin Field area that has been feuding with other gangs in Dorchester.

Davis said police are investigating whether feuding groups in the area could be responsible. Police are looking to question two young men who appeared to be in their late teens who rode away on a white motorbike.

He stopped short of calling the two men suspects.

“They’re wanted for questioning right now,’’ he said.

Davis said that just before the shooting there were many families out in the park enjoying the balmy weather, sitting on porches and having cookouts.

“It’s outrageous that someone would do something like this in a public park,’’ Davis said. “It’s not acceptable.’’

“I wouldn’t comment on the nature of the injuries,’’ he said.

Shanteal Cooper and several other people on a Talbot Avenue porch said they saw the muzzle flash from the shots, followed by screams and people fleeing in all directions. The park and playground were full of people, including several young children, Cooper said.

“It’s just sad,’’ she said. “There’s children out here, and they’re shooting. I am to the point where this is just crazy.’’

Driscoll, Cooper, and other witnesses said the child was shot in the back.

Edmund L. Hassan, a shift commander for Boston EMS, said that an ambulance transported a child of about 4 years of age, with at least one gunshot wound that was believed to have been life-threatening, to Boston Medical Center about 9:45 p.m. The service also transported a second victim from the scene, an adult with a minor injury complaining of pain to Carney Hospital.

Police at first said the child was critically wounded but later upgraded his condition to stable.

Charles C. Yancey, a Boston city councilor, responded to the scene. “The shooting of a 4-year-old baby in the city of Boston should be of concern to virtually everybody in this region,’’ he said. “It is not acceptable.’’

Yancey, who represents parts of Dorchester, called on Boston police to enforce traffic laws aggressively and be more aggressive with young people speeding and driving recklessly on dirt bikes and scooters.

An hour before the shooting, police investigated reports of motorbikes speeding through the area. Generally, police say, they hesitate to chase or pull over youths on motorized bikes because of the danger of the pursuit.

“If they are breaking the law, they should be pulled over,’’ said Yancey. “If it is not tolerated in Back Bay or Beacon Hill, it shouldn’t be tolerated here.’’

Yancey called on members of his community to come forward with information. “The information is out there in this community,’’ he said. “The entire community is outraged.’’

Boston has a history of young children being felled by gunfire.

In 2002, 10-year-old Trina Persad was killed with a shotgun as she was leaving Jermaine Goffigan Park in Roxbury.

In 1988, Darlene Tiffany Moore, 12, of Roxbury, was killed by gunfire while sitting atop a mailbox in Roxbury.

In September 2010, an 8-year-old girl was injured on her porch in Dorchester after she was struck in the back of the leg by a bullet. In June 2010, a 10-year-old girl was shot in the leg in Roxbury.

Last night’s shooting followed a weekend in which two men were killed in Boston.

A 25-year-old man, who was shot multiple times in Dorchester Sunday night, became the city’s 20th homicide victim of the year when he died at Boston Medical Center.

Police and Emergency Medical Services responded to East Cottage and Sumner streets, where they found the victim with multiple gunshot wounds, Boston police said.

On Saturday, a 21-year-old man died at Boston Medical Center after he checked himself in, shot multiple times, just after 11 p.m. Police found ballistics in the area of 124 Eustis St. in Roxbury shortly before getting the call to the center.

Neither victim has been identified by police, and no arrests have been made.

Guilfoil can be reached at; Cramer at

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