Officials Call for Meeting to Discuss Recent Attacks

Three sexual assaults that occurred last week in a six hour period have prompted East Boston’s three elected officials to call for a community wide meeting on Thursday. The assaults occured less than a week after a man wielding a gun broke into an apartment and tried to rape two women and a month after another woman was attacked by two men in Jeffries Point.

State Senator Anthony Petruccelli, Sate Representative Carlo Basile, City Councilor Sal LaMattina and the Boston Police Department will host the meeting on Thursday, October 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the East Boston High School.

“They intend to address the recent increase in crime throughout the neighborhood and to respond to your questions and concerns,” said Basile speaking on behalf of his colleagues. “The community is understandably upset with crime reports over the last few weeks and the purpose of this meeting is to provide an opportunity to learn more about what has happened and what is being done to address the problem.”

Basile urged all residents to attend the meeting.

“Please pass this on to neighbors, family, and friends,” he said. “The better informed we are as a community, the stronger we are.”

The first in a new series of assaults occurred at Princeton and Putnam Streets at approximately 11:45 p.m. last Tuesday night. The female victim described the suspect as a black Hispanic or Mediterranean male with a dark complexion, approximately 5’6”, stocky build, wearing jeans and a light grey sweatshirt with the sleeves rolled up. The suspect fled down Putnam Street and possibly entered a grey van or SUV traveling on Princeton Street towards Bennington Street.

Following that incident two more woman were attacked the following morning.

The first female victim was approached from behind at approximately 6:15 a.m. in the area of Lexington and Putnam Streets. The suspect engaged her in a brief conversation and indecently assaulted the victim and fled down Putnam Street towards Day Square.

The suspect was described as a black or black Hispanic male, dark complexion approximately 30 years of age, approximately 5’7”, approximately 150 pounds, medium build, wearing a black “hoodie” turned up and black pants.

The second incident involved a female victim who described a similar incident, which occurred several blocks away at the corner of Brooks and Paris Streets. The victim was approached from behind by a suspect who indecently assaulted her and after a struggle the victim fought off her attacker who fled on Brooks Street towards Day Square. This incident occurred only a few minutes after the first at 6:17 a.m. last Wednesday morning.

That suspect was described as a black non Hispanic male, dark complexion approximately 25 years of age, approximately 5’9”, approximately 180 pounds, with a medium build and brown eyes wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and a black baseball cap.

Last week, before the additional sexual assaults, Commissioner Ed Davis said the Boston Police have put a show of force on the streets of East Boston following the recent rash of disturbing crimes—two of which took place in one night.

The first incident took place at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 19 in busy Maverick Square. In front of dozens of witnesses in the recently renovated square that includes multiple well-lit restaurants and shops a man was brutally stabbed. Responding officers said that the man was suffering from a life threatening injury to the stomach and was raced to Mass General where he remains in critical condition.

The second, more disturbing crime that has made many uneasy in the neighborhood occurred a few hours after the stabbing in Maverick. At about 11 p.m. on the same night officers responded to a report of a woman screaming in the area of Coleridge Street.

On arrival, officers spoke with two female victims who said an armed suspect broke into their home. The victims told police the suspect held them at gunpoint, demanded money, attempted to rape them and then viciously beat one of them with his handgun.  One of the victims managed to escape and ran for help. The suspect fled the area in an unknown direction.

The suspect is described as a white Non-Hispanic male, approximately 6’ tall, medium build, 180 lbs, appeared to be in his late 20’s to mid-30’s, clean shaven and was wearing a black knit hat, a short sleeve grey t-shirt and dark shorts.

The two violent crimes come on the heels of an August 27 sexual assault and September 2 shooting.

On August 27 police were called to the McKay School on Cottage Street in East Boston. On arrival, officers discovered a woman in her forties suffering from facial trauma. Boston EMS responded and transported the victim to a local hospital for additional medical treatment.

The victim told police two men forced her into a vehicle and sexually assaulted her. She described her attackers as Hispanic males. The first suspect is described as a male, approximately 30 to 40 years of age, with a heavy build and a mustache. The second suspect is described as a male in his twenties with a thin build.

The assault is still under investigation by the Boston Police Sexual Assault Unit.

The shooting occurred on September 2 at 9 p.m. when officers responded to a call about a person shot at the intersection of Marion and Saratoga streets. The 18-year-old victim said he thought he had been shot but was unsure. Officers observed a bloodstain on his shirt and called for EMS. The victim was taken to Mass General where he was treated and released for non-life-threatening injuries.

While the victim would not identify his attacker, police believe the two had a prior past and a prior dispute that could have involved drugs.

In a neighborhood that is statistically one of the safest in the city with a violent crime rate comparable to West Roxbury, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis is taking the recent uptick in crime very seriously.

“It is unusual to see crimes like these happening so close together in East Boston—a place that is relatively crime free,” Davis told the Times last week. “The latest crime is perhaps the most disturbing so we have an enormous amount of resources invested in investigating that sexual assault.”

Davis said there have been added police patrols in the Orient Heights neighborhood where the sexual assault occurred and are actively seeking suspects in the crime.

The stabbing in Maverick Square has elicited a response from the Boston Police’s elite gang task force.

The trend of violent crime began less than a year ago when Felipe Ospina was found in the area of 100 Meridian Street suffering from an apparent stab wound at 5:40 p.m. on Christmas Eve. He was rushed by ambulance to Mass General where he was later pronounced dead two days short of his 21st birthday.  A few months later on May 4 Boston Police responded to 220 Chelsea St. after getting a call for a man in cardiac arrest but stumbled upon something more sinister. There they found 50-year-old John Barrientos dead in his alleyway brutally beaten and stabbed. Police arrested a Revere man the next day.

Then on June 19 Elexson Hercules, 19, was stabbed five times in the chest before collapsing on the sidewalk at the corner of Bennington and Marion Streets. Hercules was walking with his friend Brianale Sanseverino and three others when they were approached by a group of four men. Hercules stayed behind to talk with the men as his friends walked away. That’s when Sanseverino heard Hercules pleading. Moments later, the four men had fled and Hercules lay on the sidewalk bleeding to death. Hercules was removed from the scene and transported to the Massachusetts General Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

In a neighborhood where half the population of longtime residents lives harmoniously side by side with new comers from Central and South America, the latest violence is putting many, particularly woman, on edge.

“I’m feeling so unsafe living here,” one lifelong female resident posted on Facebook after the attacks last week.  “I know its kind of illegal but I carry a switchblade because it’s very scary what’s happening.” While another female resident said years ago she had never felt afraid walking the streets of her neighborhood but now she does.

“What the heck is going on here?” she asked.

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