Cambridge residents mourn Charlene Holmes as search for killer of 16-year-old continues

CAMBRIDGE — The makeshift memorial to Charlene Holmes now covers most of the sidewalk in front of the three-story house where she was fatally shot Sunday night, drawing somber residents and her high school classmates.

“She was just a little girl, and she loved to dress up,’’ wailed Velda Francis, who lives in the neighborhood and stopped by the memorial at 34-36 Willow St. to pay condolences today.

Francis, who said she watched the 16-year-old Holmes grow up, helped other mourners relight dozens of candles at the memorial dedicated to Holmes, who was shot Sunday night along with 17-year-old Thanilee Cotto-Felix.

Holmes, a sophomore at the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, died after she was hit by gunfire in an apparent drive-by shooting.

Cotto-Felix, a 17-year-old Rindge senior, was also struck by the gunfire. She remains in critical condition at an undisclosed hospital, officials said today.


A spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr.’s office said authorities are still investigating a possible suspect or suspects and a motive for the gunfire.

“We are encouraged by the leads we have and we have every confidence we will solve this crime,’’ said the spokeswoman, Jessica Venezia Pastore.

Pastore said investigators are trying to determine who the intended targets were. “That’s something that continues to be investigated, whether the girls were the intended targets,’’ she said.

In interviews Monday, neighbors said Holmes was with her sister and both were simply walking past 34-36 Willow St. when the shots were fired and Holmes was mortally wounded.

But Pastore said Holmes and the second victim were together and walked up to the porch together to have a conversation with someone on the porch when they were shot.

“Our investigation, at this point, indicates that they had stopped at the porch at the time of the shooting and were conversing with the residents,’’ Pastore said in a telephone interview today. “They were known to the residents of that location.’’

Pastore declined to comment on what investigators found during their search of a second-floor unit at 34-36 Willow St. on Monday.