PARKSIDE—A man was gunned down in front of his house at 101 Rossmore Road on Oct. 25, dying as a large group of family and neighbors looked on helplessly. His suspected killer, his face hidden under his jacket hood, walked away past several residents and escaped in a waiting car.
“He was ashen white, and there was a lot of blood on the ground,” said resident Bill Mitchell, who saw the victim, 27-year-old Garibaldis Peña, a few minutes after the 3 p.m. shooting. About a dozen women and children stood around Peña, screaming, as he bled on the small sidewalk in front of the house, Mitchell said.
“He was still breathing,” but it was obvious he was about to die, Mitchell said. “I looked at him in the eyes and face…He had no blood in the face at all. I stood there stunned—just the shock of seeing a face that pale.”
Mitchell was among the many neighbors who were outdoors on the warm Saturday afternoon and heard three gunshots, at least one of which hit and killed Peña.
In 2005, Peña pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the 2003 baseball-bat murder of a Jamaica Plain man, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. His household was not known for drawing any trouble, local residents told the Gazette. But, they said, Peña was sometimes observed behaving suspiciously—getting into a passing car for a brief ride down Rossmore, then getting out again at a corner.
Residents also said that city officials have told them that Peña had connections with street criminals in the Egleston and Hyde Squares areas, and that his killing may be related to the April shooting death of a young man in the Southwest Corridor Park.
“It sounds like it was an assassination,” said resident Allan Ihrer, who was among about 20 people who heard the gunshots while attending a gardening workshop in the nearby Minton Stables Community Garden. He noted that the gunman appeared to know exactly when Peña would be outside, and the reports from witnesses that the killer walked away calmly and fled in a waiting vehicle.
Boston Police Department (BPD) spokesperson Elaine Driscoll said the BPD is seeking a gray Honda in connection with the shooting, but has not released any description of a suspect.
But some residents and passers-by got a look at a man they believe to be the suspect. One resident, who asked to remain anonymous in this article, told the Gazette he got within 20 feet of the suspect. He said he told his story to four police patrol officers and a detective.
The resident said he went to the street in response to the gunshots and screaming. Then a woman pulled up in a car, pointed out a young man on the street and said, “He just shot somebody!”
The resident said the suspect was wearing a jacket with the hood up, walking quickly with his hands in his pockets. The suspect kept his head down, and hunched more when he realized people were nearby.
“I couldn’t get a good look at his face,” the resident told the Gazette, describing him only as having a clean-shaven chin. “If I saw the guy in a room today, I wouldn’t know who he was.”
“I even thought momentarily of going across the street and trying to talk to him or hold him, but I thought, ‘That’s probably the last thing I want to do…If he’s got a gun, I’m in deep stupidity,’” the resident said.
According to various residents, the suspect walked down Rossmore, then onto Plainfield Street. He reportedly got into a car at the corner of Plainfield and Brookley Road that was parked in a spot that could not easily be blocked in by other vehicles. Reports conflict on whether the suspect was alone in the car.
The killing happened near the intersection of Rossmore and Forest Hills Street, alongside Franklin Park. The local neighborhood is not known for violent crime. The last similar shooting death anyone could recall was a mugging gone bad about 45 years ago.
A man was stabbed to death this year on Mother’s Day in a Gartland Street group home. But police have attributed that to some type of domestic incident, with the victim’s roommate charged with murder in the case.
Two years ago, a man was shot in the buttocks by a man he was smoking marijuana with in Franklin Park at the Forest Hills/Williams Street intersection. There was also a shooting this summer on Rockvale Circle.
Residents said they are seeking help from a trauma response team of residents and city workers that has counseled people who witnessed recent violent crime in Jackson Square.
“My concern is the teenagers in the neighborhood who knew [Peña],” Mitchell said. “They’re good kids, and I want some people with experience putting [the killing] in some context [for them].”
The anonymous resident said he was told by city officials last week that some agency would be conducting low-key outreach to local youths, apparently with the aims of both providing counseling and defusing any possible retaliatory violence. It was unclear who would conduct the outreach.
Pena’s own involvement in homicide came in 2003, when JP resident Federico Lara was beaten to death by his own nephew. Peña helped the nephew in his attempt to dispose of Lara’s body, which involved packing it into a vehicle, driving it to Charlestown and then burning the vehicle. The nephew was convicted of first-degree murder, and Peña pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact.
Peña’s killing is the eighth reported homicide in the Jamaica Plain area this year. There were five JP homicides last year, and two in 2006.
Anyone with information about Peña’s killing can contact Boston Police detectives at 343-4470 or anonymous at 1-800-494-8477 or by text-messaging the word “TIP” to 27463.