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No arrests in deadly Roxbury shooting

By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / October 7, 2011

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Michael Smith loved to sing. Wednesday night he was standing in his cousin’s living room belting out a gospel tune when his cousin, Earl Dorsey, entered and asked him to tag along on a maintenance call to fix a toilet at the Warren Gardens Housing Development in Roxbury, where both men worked, relatives said.

Smith and Dorsey, both fathers, drove together from Dorchester, grabbed a plumber’s snake at the complex, and started walking to the apartment. Then, shortly after 9 p.m., residents heard two loud booms that rattled windows, followed by rapid gunfire. Residents said they found Smith dead, face down in a pool of blood on the pavement, and Dorsey curled up in a fetal position, critically wounded.

“These are two hard-working and peaceful men, and for someone to just walk up on them like that and shoot them in the face, it just doesn’t make any sense,’’ Shirley Dorsey, the surviving victim’s mother, said, standing on her front steps. “I’m angry, very angry because they were gunned down for no reason.’’

Warren Gardens - an approximately 220-unit housing cooperative bordered by Walnut Avenue and Regent, Warren, and Rockland streets - is located in a section that has one of the city’s greatest concentrations of poverty, violence, drug abuse, and health problems.

Earl Dorsey, 38 and the father of six, had worked at the development for about two years. He was in critical condition at Boston Medical Center, with gunshot wounds to the head and left shoulder, relatives said. Smith, 44, was shot in the head and several times in the body.

Smith moved from Aliquippa, Pa., to Boston about five years ago and had worked at the development for about 18 months. He leaves two children. His body will be returned to Pennsylvania, Shirley Dorsey said.

No arrests have been made in connection with the shootings, Boston police said. Detectives questioned numerous individuals, but would not say whether any are suspects. Police also would not say whether the shootings appeared to be random.

It was the second double shooting inside the complex in six weeks. On Aug. 22, two men in their twenties were gunned down near 3 Kensington Park, not far from Wednesday’s shootings. One of those victims died. No arrests have been made in those shootings.

Smith’s death brings the number of homicides in the city this year to 48, compared with 54 at the same time last year.

Yesterday, the woman who had made the maintenance call that the men were responding to said: “I didn’t sleep at all last night because I feel really bad. I keep thinking . . . what if I didn’t make that call, he would still be alive. I feel really guilty because they were coming here. They didn’t even make it to my house.’’

She said the apartment shook with the gunfire. She said she looked outside, did not see anyone, and then her neighbor knocked on her door and told her there were two bodies on the ground, said the woman, who asked that her name not be used because she fears for her safety. “Most people here know them. They’re cousins and seem to be really nice people.’’

Shirley Dorsey said of Smith, her nephew: “He had kind words for everyone and kept everyone laughing. Yesterday, he brought me a present for my birthday.’’

Smith sold roses in Pennsylvania, and when his supply ran out once 10 years ago, he started making roses out of napkins. He got really good at it, relatives said. He decided to move to Boston to find better work.

Yesterday, as word of the shootings passed through the complex, a makeshift memorial appeared near the scene. A baseball cap was placed at the top of an aluminum pole, and a candle and a bouquet of roses were placed on the sidewalk.

Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @globeballou.