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Shots on Common strike teens, State House

5 men arrested on gun charges

The bullet hole was seen in the window of the constituent services office at the State House yesterday. Police are investigating. The bullet hole was seen in the window of the constituent services office at the State House yesterday. Police are investigating. (JUSTINE HUNT/GLOBE STAFF)

Governor Deval Patrick was angry, and Beacon Hill residents were concerned about safety yesterday, after two teenagers were shot and a bullet struck a window at the State House in what police said was an argument that turned violent on Boston Common.

A female, 15, was shot in her left foot and a male, 16, was shot in his lower left leg during the altercation about 10 p.m. Sunday at the edge of the Common, across from the State House.

It was the first shooting at the park in recent memory, police said, but a Beacon Hill neighborhood leader said residents have been concerned about increasing drug activity there and have urged college students to be careful walking in the park.

"It reminds us that we cannot walk through the Common or the Public Garden in the dark," said Suzanne Besser, executive director of the Beacon Hill Civic Association.

Patrick was angered to learn that a bullet had struck the window of Room 280, which houses constituent services in the governor's office, his press office said yesterday.

"The governor is deeply disturbed by any acts of violence that occur in the Commonwealth," said spokeswoman Cyndi Roy. "And he's particularly upset about the shooting that resulted in a stray bullet breaking a window in one of the State House offices. We are thankful that no one was in the office at the time of the shooting."

State Police arrested five men, ranging in age from 18 to 26, shortly after the Boston Common shooting at Charles Circle on gun charges, according to the Suffolk district attorney's office. Authorities said it was not clear whether the men were connected to the shooting in the park.

Boston police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll, said officers first responded to a report of shots fired near the park at 10 p.m. Sunday and then were directed to a restaurant on Tremont Street, where they found the female victim. At the same time, paramedics discovered the male victim in the park. Both teenagers were treated at Massachusetts General Hospital for injuries not believed to be life-threatening.

The victims and about five friends were sitting on a park bench at Beacon and Park streets when a man approached them on foot and yelled an expletive-laced challenge, one of those in the group said yesterday in a telephone interview.

The witness, who asked not to be named, said the man then fired about four or five shots at the young people, who scattered. The gunman fled toward Tremont Street, witnesses told police.

Police described the gunman as about 19 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a thin build, and said he is possibly Cape Verdean, or Hispanic. He was wearing a black baseball cap with the letter B, a black shirt, and faded jeans.

The victims told police they had not had any contact with the man prior to the shooting, but police believe an earlier altercation may have led to the confrontation, Driscoll said.

State Police spokesman Thomas Murphy said a cleaning crew discovered the bullet hole at the State House yesterday morning.

Driscoll said police are awaiting the result of ballistics tests to determine whether the bullet that struck the State House came from the same gun used in the shooting on the Common.

Boston police Captain Bernard O'Rourke said police have stepped up patrols on the Common in response to complaints of increased drug activity and aggressive panhandling. He said the additional patrols were focused near Tremont and Boylston streets.

"It's a big park, and it's tough to patrol," O'Rourke said by phone yesterday. The Midtown Park Plaza area, which includes Boston Common, had one sexual assault, 25 robberies, and 32 aggravated assaults through June, O'Rourke said. Police made 519 drug arrests in the area through last weekend, with the majority on Boston Common, he said.

At 12:39 yesterday morning, a trooper pulled over a Volkswagen on Cambridge Street whose headlights were off. Police said they smelled marijuana and recovered a loaded 9mm handgun and what appeared to be a bag of marijuana in the car, which was registered to a Taunton woman.

The men in the car were arrested and face a range of gun charges. They are Jeffrey Snow, 18, of Dorchester; Yrga Gebremeskel, 19, of Somerville; Tyrone Haynes, 24, of Brookline; Hector Bannister, 19, of Dorchester; and Tehuti Wallace, 26, of Dorchester. Each was released on $2,500 bond pending a later arraignment.

Last night, a group of homeless people in the park said drugs but not gunfire are common there.

"We're used to hearing gunfire but not in a place like this," said Kevin Brown, 38.

Mike Lee, 46, said he has noticed more police lately, but questioned the effectiveness of the patrols. "It's such a big park. How can you contain an open park?"

Kenyetta Lattimore, 26, said: "There's more drug dealers than normal people at night. Even if the shooting stops, the drug dealers are still going to be here."

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