Suspects in Boston Caribbean festival shooting appear in court

Crime

“This shooting is frightening not only for the thoughtlessness of those involved and the injuries they inflicted, but for the potential fatalities that, mercifully, didn’t occur,” Suffolk DA Kevin Hayden said.

Gerald Vick, right, is escorted out of the courtroom in the Dorchester Division of Boston Municipal Court after he was arraigned in connection with the J’ouvert celebration shootings on Monday. David L Ryan/Boston Globe Staff

Multiple people were arraigned this week in connection with the gun violence and illegal firearms that disrupted Boston’s Caribbean festival in Dorchester Saturday.

Gunfire broke out just before 7:45 a.m., Boston police said. Eight people were wounded, though police said none of the injuries were life-threatening.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday that video from nearby buildings showed a man wearing light-colored denim pants and a black hooded sweatshirt approaching a metal parade barrier, engaging a separate group of men, and shooting rounds toward the group.

The other group allegedly returned fire and struck the man, later determined to be 21-year-old Dorchester resident Sebastian Monteiro Fernandez, according to the DA’s office. Authorities said Monteiro Fernandez suffered a leg wound and could be seen limping into a tow lot and passing a firearm to an unidentified woman.

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Shortly after the shooting, Boston police arrested 30-year-old Dorchester residents Gerald Vick and Dwayne Francis and charged them with unlawful firearm possession. A 17-year-old Dorchester boy was also charged with illegal firearm possession after officials allegedly found a pistol equipped with a “Glock switch” that enabled the gun to fire multiple rounds with a single pull of a trigger.

Monteiro Fernandez, so far the only suspect charged with firing a weapon during the incident, was arraigned from his hospital bed Tuesday and charged with illegal possession of a firearm (second offense), illegal possession of a loaded firearm, illegal possession of ammunition, discharging a weapon within 500 feet of a dwelling, and seven counts of armed assault with intent to murder, the DA’s office said.

He was held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing.

“It’s impossible to overstate the sheer recklessness of firing bullets on a city street at any time, much less when people are gathered to celebrate and enjoy a popular cultural event,” Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden said in a statement. “This shooting is frightening not only for the thoughtlessness of those involved and the injuries they inflicted, but for the potential fatalities that, mercifully, didn’t occur.”

In a separate statement, Gov. Maura Healey addressed Saturday’s shooting in Dorchester, as well as one at another Caribbean festival in Worcester the following day. 

“I’m heartbroken over the gun violence that occurred this weekend in Boston and Worcester amid proud celebrations of culture, community and joy,” Healey said. “My thoughts are with the victims, their families and the entire communities that have been impacted by these senseless shootings.”

What happened in court on Monday?

Vick and Francis both pleaded not guilty to firearm charges on Monday, according to The Boston Globe

The Globe reported that Vick had been free on bail in another illegal gun case at the time. He was ordered held without bail on the new charges.

Francis’s lawyer said his client found a gun after Saturday’s shooting, and that police body camera footage would show him bringing the weapon over to officers, according to the Boston Herald

The man’s mother, Blu Williams, echoed his attorney’s description of events. 

“My son was there to enjoy the parade,” Williams said, according to the Herald. “My son thought he was doing the right thing by walking to the police and telling them about the firearm. And that was it. But instead they threw him in handcuffs.”

Dwayne Francis, right, during his arraignment at Dorchester Division of Boston Municipal Court. He was arraigned Monday in connection with the J’ouvert celebration shootings on Saturday. – David L Ryan/Boston Globe Staff

However, the Globe reported that a prosecutor described Francis as an instigator during the shooting. Francis was ordered held on $10,000 bail and ordered to wear a GPS tracker and remain under house arrest if released, according to the Globe. 

The unidentified 17-year-old was expected in Juvenile Court Monday, the newspaper reported.

Two others who were arrested for allegedly carrying illegal guns on Saturday were also due in court: Nakhi Cox-O’Bryant, 18, and Maceo Withers Brewer, 21. Both are represented by defense attorney Matthew Sandofsky, who confirmed Cox-O’Bryant and Withers Brewer pleaded not guilty but declined to comment on the charges. 

Cox-O’Bryant was held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing, while Withers Brewers was ordered held on $1,500 bail, court records show.

Judge gives impassioned speech

As Withers Brewer appeared for his arraignment, Judge Jonathan R. Tynes’s frustration was palpable.

“We’re talking about someone who’s 21 years old. His mother’s sitting right there, barely holding it together. She did her job; he’s 21 years old. Not one time arrested. And now it’s a splash, with a gun that can fire 22 rounds … with the flip of a switch, at a festival where people are supposed to be able to go, have fun, relax,” Tynes said in footage shared by Boston 25 News, his voice raised. “It’s not that anymore; we all know that. But that’s what it’s supposed to be — to celebrate rich cultures, rich history, rich traditions. This ain’t it.”

In the video, a woman can be seen sitting in the courtroom, wiping tears from her eyes.

“She’s probably thanking God that the phone call she didn’t get from the police was to come down and identify you,” Tynes told Withers Brewer. 


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