By Kathy McCabe
The Boston Globe
BOSTON — A massive sweep across Boston by multiple law enforcement agencies netted at least 67 arrests on gang- and drug-related charges in a 24-hour period starting late Friday night, police said.
The sweep followed a week of deadly violence in Boston, during which four people were shot to death, bringing the homicide total to eight this year, quadruple the number at this time last year, police said.
"The goal of the operation is to send a clear message to criminals that gun violence will not be tolerated in our community," said Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis, reading from a statement during a press conference at police headquarters yesterday. "The roundup is focused on known gang members, many of whom are active gang members."
A department spokesman said last night that officers continued to work through late yesterday, so the number of arrests might rise.
"Officers are still out there conducting surveillance and trying to execute warrants," Officer James Kenneally said. "People are out and about, trying to do their thing and trying to track folks down."
The sweep, conducted with the State Police, FBI, and US Marshals, also netted four firearms and various illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, police said. The individuals were arrested on outstanding warrants and range in age from 17 to 54.
They were charged with a range of crimes, including smoking in public, failure to attend jury duty, armed robbery, and illegal firearm possession, police said.
The sweep was launched hours after a 23-year-old man was shot to death Friday while eating at a Jamaican restaurant on Harvard Street in Dorchester.
The spree of homicides started late Tuesday when 16-year-old Carlos Sierra of Dorchester was shot to death on Strathcona Road.
The next day, 23-year-old Darrius Jones of Dorchester, was shot and killed in a livery car in Roslindale after leaving the funeral of a recent slaying victim. Two others were wounded in that attack.
Early Thursday, Roderick Carter, 24, of Dorchester, died after being shot in the Franklin Field housing development.
On the same day, a man described as being white and in his 30s was found stabbed to death in a three-family residence on Tuttle Street in Dorchester.
The spate of violence came during a week in which Mayor Thomas M. Menino used his State of the City address to applaud police for helping curb crime. Last year, the city had a marked decline in homicides and shootings.
The sweep was expected to continue into last night, with extra police patrols targeting high-crime areas, Davis said.
He said Boston police are "laser focused" on ridding the city of firearm violence. "We will not allow these cowards to derail our mission to reduce violence," he added.
Elaine Driscoll, a police department spokeswoman, declined to say how many additional officers would be combing Boston neighborhoods.
"We have targeted the major hot spots," Driscoll said in a brief interview after the press conference.
One area slated for extra patrols is Harvard Street in Dorchester, where a small memorial to the latest victim was placed outside The Right Taste Restaurant, where the shooting occurred Friday just after 7:35 p.m.
Police, who did not release the name of the latest victim, believe his death was gang related, Driscoll said.
The victim was seated at the counter with a friend who was not injured in the shooting. But police believe the friend also was targeted, Driscoll said.
"The individual targeted both of them," she said. She added that police are pursuing leads.
In Dorchester yesterday, the restaurant owner expressed dismay at the crime.
"They shot him through the glass," said Karen Sheppard, who has owned the tiny takeout restaurant for two years. "They [police] need to do something. It's the young kids. They don't seem to fear anything."
Sheppard said the victim was a regular customer. He was seated with a friend at the counter, eating curried shrimp, when bullets shattered the restaurant's large glass windows and doors.
"He was a good kid," said Sheppard, who reopened her restaurant about 1 p.m. yesterday, after new windows were put in. "He came here a lot. He never bothered anyone, that I know of."
Shaniqua Leonard, 17, said she is bothered by the violence in her Harvard Street neighborhood.
"Look at 2007 and all the killings," said Leonard, a high school junior who stopped into The Right Taste yesterday for a beef patty sandwich. "The year 2008 just started. You go to a wake and you hear, `My boy died.' ... This is crazy."
Friends and family who made a memorial for the latest victim outside the restaurant declined to comment yesterday afternoon. They lit candles and left teddy bears and sympathy cards around a telephone pole.
They scrawled condolence messages on two white T-shirts taped to the pole. "RIP ... TY. I Love You Always, Jazzmen!" read one message, while an other simply said "You will be missed."
Copyright 2008 The Boston Globe
Dozens arrested in Boston gang sweep