Killing shocks Centre St.

February 6, 2009
By

John Ruch

Suspect charged with murder

HYDE SQ.—A 22-year-old Roslindale man was shot to death in broad daylight on Centre Street across from Mozart Park on Jan. 27. The Tuesday afternoon killing on the sidewalk of a major Jamaica Plain business district was described as “brazen” by prosecutors.

Christopher R. Jamison, 23, of 44 Regent St. in Roxbury was later charged with murder. Jamison allegedly got out of a car at Centre and Walden streets—in front of the Fellowship Church of God—around 1:40 p.m. and opened fire on Anthony Perry, who ran down the sidewalk before collapsing at 319-321 Centre St. Perry died at a hospital a short time later from multiple wounds, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and police sources.

An early theory is that the killing was an assassination related to the H-Block drug organization that operates in Jackson Square’s Bromley-Heath housing development, police sources told the Gazette.

The killing happened at the exact same spot as an infamous 1991 shooting that left a bystander paralyzed as then-Mayor Raymond Flynn and police commissioner Francis Roache attended a rededication of Mozart Park.

“I’m shocked. I couldn’t sleep well last night,” said José Espinal, owner of JP Records at 319 Centre, the day after witnessing the recent crime.

“I was taking care of a customer, and we heard three or four shots,” Espinal told the Gazette. Espinal then saw Perry go running by and presumed he was just fleeing the gunfire, Espinal said.

But then, Espinal said, a man stepped into the store and shouted in Spanish, “Call the police! Call the police! He’s been shot!”

After securing his store, Espinal saw Perry lying on the ground with MBTA Police officers performing CPR on him. “He had blood all over,” Espinal said of Perry.

“The community is shocked,” Espinal said. “It’s so unfortunate, someone taking the life of such a young kid. It’s ridiculous.”

City Councilor John Tobin, who was in Hyde Square with his infant son on the previous night for a meeting, expressed outrage over the killing “in broad daylight…with people walking on the sidewalk.”

Tobin said some people have expressed mild relief to him that it appears that Perry was “targeted” rather than randomly shot. “Like that makes it any better,” Tobin said, adding that such crimes also put passers-by at risk. “How about if the person’s not a good shot? What about the trauma and the people who have to witness this stuff?”

A local trauma response team of resident and city workers who counsel people affected by violence was on the scene within minutes, as well as attending such later events as Perry’s funeral wake. It was the ninth time the team has responded to violence since starting up last fall, according to Jim Cote, executive director of Jackson Square’s Martha Eliot Health Center.

Tobin said he has spoken with Hyde Square Task Force officials about the possibility of a community meeting about the incident. Task Force Executive Director Claudio Martinez could not be reached for comment for this article.

“I think all the [youth violence] we’re seeing is a direct result of not having a world-class school system,” Tobin said, noting the Boston Public Schools’ “abysmal graduation rate and horrifying and embarrassing drop-out rate and truancy rate.”

“We’re not making that investment, and this is what is happening,” Tobin said.

Jamison is being held without bail on charges of murder and unlawful possession of a gun and ammo.

In 2003, a Christopher R. Jamison was arrested in Egleston Square on a charge of unlawful gun possession. Jake Wark of the DA’s Office could not immediately confirm if that is the same person, but said the Jamison in custody on the murder charge has “a record that includes arrests for trespassing, drug offenses and assault-related offenses.”

Prosecutors also charged Shaba Olukoga, 19, of 69 Homestead St. in Dorchester with being an accessory after the fact to murder in Perry’s killing. Olukoga allegedly drove the car that Jamison was riding in before and after the shooting, which police pulled over on Homestead Street. Olukoga was held on $250,000 bail.

The DA’s Office said the investigation into Perry’s killing remains “extremely active,” and more arrests are possible.

Anyone with information about the killing can contact the Boston Police Department Homicide Unit at 343-4470, or leave an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-494-8477 or text-messaging the word “TIP” to 27463.

Anyone who needs counseling from experiencing violent crime can contact the trauma response team at any of JP’s community health centers, including Brookside, Dimock, Martha Eliot and Southern Jamaica Plain.
History of crime

The death of Perry, who lived on Charme Avenue in Roslindale just across the JP border, is the first reported homicide in JP this year. There were eight homicides in the JP area last year, including a broad-daylight shooting in the Southwest Corridor Park.

In another burst of gun violence, two men are facing attempted murder charges in a Jan. 10 shooting at Bromley-Heath. [See related article.]

Perry’s killing also marks a return of violence to the Mozart Park area after what Espinal said was a few years of relative peace.

The 1991 rededication of Mozart Park drew 700 people and was intended as a celebration of efforts to end Hyde Square’s infamous cocaine-dealing epidemic of the era.

During the afternoon celebration, a group of teenagers at Centre and Walden opened fire on a rival. One of the bullets hit a woman as she walked into her front door at 319 Centre, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.

Since then, the park area has gone through cycles of peace and violence. In 2003, the Hyde Square Task Force held meetings about brazen drug-dealing and related crime plaguing the park.

In 2006, teachers warned by a bystander herded 18 toddlers out of the park only moments before someone fired at least eight gunshots there for unknown reasons. The children were only yards away when the shots were fired.

But Mozart Park and Hyde Square in general have been largely peaceful in recent years. The park has been used by the Task Force for large summertime celebrations for youths. The park was recently renovated again to neighborhood acclaim.

David Taber contributed to this article.