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Sniper Kills Five, Injures Two Before Killing Himself

August 31, 1987

BOSTON (AP) _ A man opened fire with an automatic weapon in a Boston neighborhood Sunday, killing four relatives and another woman and critically wounding two other relatives before taking his own life, authorities said.

A Vietnamese interpreter called to the scene by police said the gunman was a Vietnamese refugee involved in a dispute with family members over money, but police said they had no information about a possible motive.

The 23-year-old man shot four people outside a home in the city’s Dorchester section, then ran into the dwelling, witnesses and police said. He shot three people inside the house before committing suicide after a two-hour standoff with police, said Deputy Police Superintendent Robert O’Toole.

The gunman’s identity was not immediately released and those of the victims were being withheld.

But police spokeswoman Jane Sheehan said the gunman killed his 52-year-old uncle, 48-year-old aunt, two female cousins, age 23 and 26, and a 24-year-old woman visiting the family.

During the standoff, police gave conflicting reports about the victims and their relations to each other. But Ms. Sheehan said another cousin of the gunman who was not injured in the shooting identified the victims for police.

She said police did not know who owned the house or whether the gunman was living there with the relatives.

″Bullets were flying around our heads,″ said paramedic Juli Nichols, who responded to the emergency call.

Joe Munroe, the driver of a tow truck parked on the street jumped out of the vehicle, picked up a 3-year-old girl who was shot and ran through gunfire to hand the girl to his sister, who carried her to rescuers around the corner, Ms. Nichols said.

″I was a little scared but to me that little girl’s life was worth a lot more than my life,″ a visibly shaken Munroe said.

When police arrived about 3:30 p.m., they found paramedics treating a man, a woman and the 3 year-old shot on a street around the corner from the house into which the gunman fled, O’Toole said.

A woman was found shot on a porch across the street from the house where the gunman holed up, O’Toole said.

Inside, police found a woman shot in a stairwell, the uncle shot in a hallway and a third woman shot in a bedroom of the apartment in which the gunman apparently shot himself in the head, O’Toole said.

A 9-mm gun was found next to his body.

A 19-year-old man was in critical condition at Boston City Hospital, said Ms. Sheehan. The 3-year-old girl, identified as Phuong Huynh of Medford, was in critical condition at New England Medical Center, a spokeswoman said. Both were identified by police as cousins of the gunman.

The shooting was reported at 3:24 p.m. in the heavily populated, residential area with multi-family homes.

DiWanna Salmons, 14, who lives across the street from the three-story, six- apartment building used by the gunman, said she was returning home and thought she heard firecrackers exploding when she saw the gunman, wearing a trench coat with a rifle barrel protruding from one of the sleeves.

″He came running at me,″ the crying teen-ager said as she was comforted by relatives. ″He chased me into my yard, but he slipped on a piece of board. He shot at me, but nothing came out of the gun.″

Two other neighbors, Nancy Feeney and a registered nurse said they rushed to aid the woman who was shot outside the house.

The woman ″had a lot of blood coming from her mouth and nose,″ the nurse said. ″I couldn’t tell if it was a head or chest wound.″

Feeney said the gunman fired several shots at the woman’s head after she had been felled by the first shot.

After the gunman rushed into the house, Feeney and the nurse said they heard windows breaking and people yelling, ″Get back, Get back.″ The man then fired additional shots into the street, they said.

The Boston Police special operations squad, armed with rifles, surrounded the house and called for a translator to try to open a dialogue with the gunman, police said. Police and the gunman did not exchange fire.

The gunman was on the first floor when he shot himself. Afterward, medical examiners and a priest were brought to the house.

Residents of nearby homes crowded onto porches as police swarmed into the neighborhood. Police evacuated several residents from buildings adjacent to the one from which the gunman fired the shots.

The shooting was New England’s second multiple slaying of the weekend by a suspect who committed suicide.

Police said a Providence, R.I., woman fatally shot her sleeping boyfriend, sister and son at home before traveling to Skeekonk, Mass., where she killed herself early Saturday after agreeing to surrender.

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