By John Ruch and Peter Shanley/Gazette Staff
Three recent armed robberies at Jamaica Pond sparked fear as well as concerns in the Boston Police Department notifying the public about them.
Meanwhile, police arrested two suspects in a brutal Franklin Park armed robbery and indicated they are being looked at suspects in two of the Jamaica Pond attacks.
The first two robberies happened on Sept. 24 in the 11 p.m. hour on the Jamaica Pond footpath. They were committed by two young suspects, one with a gun and one with a knife.
In one incident, they robbed a group of people walking through the park. In the other incident, they forced the man into a wooded area, robbed him, and left him tied to a tree, according to BPD. Anastasia Lyman of Jamaica Plain’s Greenough Street area crime watch circulated an email reportedly quoting an acquaintance of the victim as saying the robbers also placed a bag over his head and forced him to divulge “passwords.”
On the afternoon of Oct. 4, a similar crime happened at the Franklin Park Golf Course. Three robbers attacked a man at knifepoint, forced him into some brush, and bound his hands and feet before robbing him. According to BPD, officers spotted suspects matching the description on Chilcott Place in Jamaica Plain. Officers chased the suspects, arrested two in the area of Washington and Boylston streets, while the third suspect got away.
The two suspects arrested in that Franklin Park incident are a 13-year-old juvenile from Dorchester and Rafael Motas-Pena, 21, of Dorchester. Both are charged with assault with intent to murder, kidnapping and armed robbery. They are being investigated for any connections to the pond crimes, BPD said.
Meanwhile, an attempted robbery was reported at 511 Jamaicaway, near the Jamaica Pond Park entrance, on that same afternoon of Oct. 4. No one was injured and the robbers did not manage to take anything, according to emails from Officer Carlos Lara of District E-13’s Community Service Office.
The three suspects are described as black or black Hispanic males, about 15-16 years old. One wore a red hooded sweatshirt and another wore tan pants.
BPD did not make a public warning about the Sept. 24 robberies until Sept. 30, nearly a week later. That delay drew community criticism.
On Oct. 3, the Friends of Jamaica Pond and the Jamaica Pond Association held a press conference at the pond to question BPD officials.
Robert Merner, superintendent for the bureau of investigation service at BPD, said that one of the attacks was not reported until two days later, creating a “time lap.” He also said that BPD does not always issue advisories on robberies and that the first thing BPD does is to get the “investigation up and running.”
Bernard O’Rourke, deputy superintendent at BPD, said that JP remains one of the safest neighborhoods in the city, noting that robberies have decreased 33 percent and overall crime has decreased 13 percent when compared to this time last year. He said that people walking at the pond should be vigilant, not going around with earplugs in and staring at the cell phone.
“If you see something, say something—that’s the key,” said O’Rouke.
BPD officials at the press conference said they had also increased patrols of undercover and uniformed officers at the park after the attacks.
City Councilor Matt O’Malley, speaking at the press conference, called Jamaica Pond a “very, very special place,” and the robberies “very unsettling.” But, he added, the “men and women of the Boston Police Department are the finest in the world” and have stepped up patrols.
Also attending the event were Jullianne Doherty from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services and representatives of state Rep. Liz Malia and Jeffrey Sánchez.
Groups of young criminals robbing people in parks is not just a Jamaica Plain problem. Nearby Mission Hill suffered similar crimes by a group of four robbers in McLaughlin Playground on Oct. 4.
Anyone with information about the crimes can contact BPD at 617-343-5628 or anonymously by calling 1-800-494-8477 or by texting “TIP” to 27463.