BHA: Drug deal sparked Bromley violence

July 20, 2012
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By Peter Shanley and John Ruch, Gazette Staff

The recent violence at the Bromley-Heath housing development is the result of a drug purchase gone awry, according to Boston Housing Authority (BHA) Administrator Bill McGonagle.

“That’s what I’m getting from my police,” he said. “There might be other theories out there.”

The BHA and other city authorities have responded on several fronts, including plans to install a police substation at Bromley-Heath, while there was a public protest at the development seeking to bring attention to the violence.

Capt. Paul Russell, commander of the local District E-13 Police Station, said he could not comment on the cause of the violence, but did say that there is a lack of cooperation from some victims and witnesses.

“The lack of cooperation has been impeding the investigation,” said Russell. “These shootings are not random.”

He urged people with any information to contact E-13 detectives at 617-343-5630 or use “Text-a-Tip” by texting the word “tip” to 27463.

As the Gazette previously reported, six men have been shot in Bromley-Heath since May 26. The last shooting occurred July 2. All of the victims reportedly survived the shootings.

McGonagle said there have been several responses to the recent violence, including the increased visibility of the housing and city police. But, he added, there were five police officers in the general area during one afternoon shooting.

“These shootings are not happening because of a lack of police commitment. It’s happening in spite of it,” said McGonagle.

McGonagle said other responses are the installation of the state-of-the-art security cameras and a BHA police substation in the center of Bromley-Heath. McGonagle said that the substation should be in place within a matter of weeks.

McGonagle also said the development is currently in the process of receiving improved security lighting.

Police have seized nine handguns at Bromley-Heath in the past several weeks, according to McGonagle. And BHA is moving to evict several families who have been involved in arrests not related to the recent violence, he said.

“We are attempting to restore the sense of order and peace there,” said McGonagle.

Bi-weekly meetings are also held between the Boston Police Department, BHA, MBTA police (Bromley-Heath abuts the Jackson Square T stop) and Bromley-Heath management where they share information and make sure everyone is on the same page, according to McGonagle.

Local state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez said BHA is working to make sure the residents feel safe and is addressing the crime issues promptly.

“I’ll commend them. They’ve been out there,” said Sánchez.

Sánchez mentioned that other service organizations, such as the Girls Scouts, are seeking to partner with Bromley-Heath. He said BHA is working out the logistics on how to do it.

“I hope to God we’re able to get to those folks who don’t know there’s more out there and [get] help for the children,” he said.

On July 3, about 20 people gathered at the Bromley-Heath to protest what they called the lack of response to recent violence there.

“Every day we have a shooting,” said Mildred Hailey, former executive director and founder of Bromley-Heath Tenant Management Corporation (TMC), which ran the housing development for 40 years before the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) took over in the spring. “The media is quiet. The BHA is quiet. The [Boston Police Department] is quiet. We cannot afford to be quiet anymore. We can’t wait for a solution to fall on our laps.”

Hailey said the community is willing to work side-by-side with the BHA and the police to find a solution.

“We will mobilize. We will organize. We will educate. The community will negotiate with anybody that wants to bring security to our neighborhood,” she said.

The Gazette was unable to obtain comment from current TMC members.

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