Boston Caribbean Festival parade shooting: What we know

Crime

Eight people were injured by gunfire and two males were arrested for the shooting. Officials say the shooting was unrelated to the festival.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Boston Caribbean Festival organizer Shirley Shillingford, and Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox spoke to the media Saturday about the shooting at the festival. Erin Clark/The Boston Globe

Boston police arrested two males in connection with a shooting that happened on the outskirts of a Boston Caribbean Festival parade Saturday morning, according to authorities.

The gunfire injured eight people, but all suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said in a press release. The shooting was unrelated to the festival, authorities said during a press conference Saturday.

“It’s always just heart-wrenching to hear that a treasured community event has been disrupted by acts of violence from those who had nothing to do with the event,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said during the conference.

While the rest of the first parade was canceled, the festival, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary, and its second parade continued on as planned in Roxbury and Dorchester.

Despite calls to separate the violence from the festival, similar incidents have occurred at five Boston Caribbean Festivals held in the last decade, resulting in the deaths of four people. Additionally, several others were arrested on gun and assault charges at or near the festival Saturday.

What happened

The shooting happened just before 7:45 a.m., police said. There were officers already on duty at the festival’s J’ouvert Parade near Blue Hill and Talbot Avenues in Dorchester. They quickly responded, providing emergency medical care until emergency services arrived.

Six men and two women were injured by the gunfire, though only five men and one woman were taken to a hospital, police said. The other two victims were only grazed by the bullets and declined further medical care. One person was seriously injured, but is expected to survive, The Boston Globe reported.

Officers canvassed the area and obtained video that showed two males involved in a “shootout,” police said. One of the males, who was later identified as 21-year-old Sebastian Fernandez, was shot in the leg during the exchange.

Fernandez limped over to police after the shooting and was treated with a tourniquet before being taken to a hospital, police said. He was later arrested for the shooting and is being guarded at the hospital.

The other shooter was seen wearing a black hooded shirt with white writing and black sweatpants, police said. He ran from the scene into the rear of a nearby Boys and Girls Club building.

Around 1:50 p.m., officers spotted a male matching the suspect’s description on Westview Street, police said. They stopped the suspect, a 17-year-old Dorchester male, and allegedly found a pistol on him. The teen was arrested for firearm possession while his involvement in the shooting is under investigation.

Boston Police Det. Juan José Seoane López was one of the investigators examining a Boys and Girls Club van that was hit by gunfire during a shooting that happened near large crowds celebrating at the Boston Caribbean Festival. – Josh Reynolds/The Boston Globe

The shooting happened on the outskirts of the parade, and the preliminary investigation indicates that “two groups” were “having some type of altercation,” Cox said during Saturday’s press conference.

It is unclear what charges the two suspects are facing.

What officials said about the shooting

“These individuals displayed a complete disregard for human life in the midst of one of the city’s cultural celebrations, endangering the lives of hundreds of people,” Cox said in the release. “This should send a clear message to anyone who comes into our city that we will not stand for this type of violence and we will use all our means to identify you and apprehend you.”

“There are too many guns on our streets in our communities,” Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Caitlin Fitzgerald said during the press conference. “The district attorney’s office has prioritized fighting gun violence in our communities and we’re going to continue to do so.”

Mayor Wu expressed concern that the Boston Caribbean Festival would be associated with violence due to the shooting. She said she’s enjoyed attending the festival many times, calling it “necessary for the city” and “a critical part of our social infrastructure here and community building.”

“This is a huge benefit for the city of Boston to have this event — the economic impacts from visitors coming from all around the world. We have one of the largest celebrations, one of the longest-running celebrations,” she said during the conference. “To associate any individual event with acts that might have happened that were nearby or unaffiliated with it, I think can reinforce some harmful perceptions in our community.”

Shirley Shillingford, president of the Caribbean American Carnival Association of Boston, apologized for the violence, describing the shooters as “lawless people” who “look for events like this to come out and do their lawless behaviors.”

“It was very, very difficult for me this morning to know that something occurred when we work so hard, so incredibly hard, to put on something that is more a family-oriented event and peaceful,” she said. “…We want everyone to come out and really look at what we are presenting the rest of the day.”

Other Boston and state officials expressed their outrage at the shooting on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.

Other arrests at the festival

Boston police arrested several other people for carrying illegal guns during the festival Saturday.

Shortly after the shooting, officers discovered that 30-year-old Dorchester residents Gerald Vick and Dwayne Francis were allegedly carrying pistols with illegal enhancements and arrested them, according to a press release. They were both charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.

Around 3 p.m., police arrested 18-year-old Dorchester resident Nakhi Cox-Obryant near 602 Blue Hill Ave. in Dorchester after allegedly discovering a pistol on her, the release said. She is facing several gun charges.

Just before 5 p.m., officers arrested 21-year-old Boston resident Maceo Withers-Brewer near the intersection of Old Road and Ellington Street in Dorchester after responding to a call for shots fired, the release said. He is facing several gun charges.

All four suspects are set to be arraigned Monday in Dorchester District Court.

Other arrests near the festival

Officers assigned to the festival also arrested two other men on assault and gun charges Saturday, while a third man was arrested for assault near the festival.

Around 9:15 a.m., officers responded to 590 Blue Hill Ave. for a report of a person with a gun, a press release said. There, they saw a victim being assaulted by a group of people. They tried to arrest a suspect who was holding his waistband, but were pushed by other people in the group, who then fled.

Police arrested one suspect, 32-year-old Boston resident John Davis, and allegedly found a knife on him. the release said. They also found a Glock-style airsoft gun in the surrounding area. They charged Davis with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a police officer, and unlawful carry.

Just after 5 p.m., officers were flagged down near 522 Blue Hill Ave. and told that a man nearby had a gun, a press release said. They soon approached two suspects and saw that one of them, who was later identified as 26-year-old Medford resident Limondji Simon, allegedly had a gun in a fanny pack.

Simon allegedly tried to reach for the gun, and a violent struggle ensued, the release said. Officers eventually arrested Simon and allegedly found that he was carrying a ghost gun with a bullet already in the chamber. He’s facing several illegal gun charges.

Just before 6:15 p.m., police responded to 493 Blue Hill Ave. for a report of a stabbing, a press release said. Witnesses told police the victim was stabbed with a screwdriver.

Officers soon found a man matching the description of the suspect, who was later identified as 62-year-old Boston resident Michael Josey, carrying a screwdriver, the release said. They arrested him and charged him with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Davis and Simon are expected to be arraigned in Dorchester District Court, while Josey is expected to be arraigned in Roxbury District Court.

Previous violence at the festival

Last year, a man was shot and killed at the festival. In 2021, a 17-year-old was fatally stabbed during the festival, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. In 2019, two men shot at each other during the parade, according to Boston police.

In 2015, a man was shot and killed and four others suffered gunshot wounds in the early morning before the parade while festival parties were going on. In 2014, a woman was shot and killed when she was caught in the crossfire of a gang-related shooting near the festival.

Police are still investigating crimes committed at and near the festival. Anyone with information about such incidents is asked to call (617)-343-4700 or share it anonymously at 1-(800)-494-TIPS.

Previous reports indicated that seven people were shot Saturday near the parade, but Boston police later said eight people were shot.


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