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Four Killed, One Wounded in Boston Restaurant Shooting

November 7, 1995

BOSTON (AP) _ Two gunmen walked through a busy restaurant in the city’s rough Charlestown section Monday and opened fire in front of a booth, killing four customers and critically wounding another.

Two plainclothes police officers who happened to be eating lunch there followed the suspects outside and arrested them in the parking lot.

Police gave no motive for the shooting in the working-class, mostly Irish neighborhood, which has long had a reputed ``code of silence″ that has sunk many a murder investigation.

Police Commissioner Paul Evans discounted speculation that it was an organized crime assassination.

``If it was a hit, it was a very sloppy hit in broad daylight in a very crowded restaurant,″ said Evans.

Witnesses said the men fired at least 13 shots inside the 99 Restaurant & Pubs around lunchtime. A hush fell over the room when the shots rang out, then people started screaming and running for cover.

``I heard, `Pop, pop, pop.′ I hit the deck,″ said Bill Sewall, 57. ``I ran out the front door, and I’m still shaking.″

Steve Maurer was in the bar when he heard what sounded like a balloon popping. ``I looked over to see if there was a party going on,″ he said. ``Then I heard another shot and saw smoke and realized it wasn’t a party.″

Maurer said he heard other patrons yelling, ``Get down! Get down!″ He ran through the kitchen and hid behind a row of cars outside.

The victims’ names were not immediately released.

The two men who were arrested were identified as Damien Clemente, 20, of Medford and Vincent John Perez, 27, of Boston. They were to be charged in Charlestown District Court on Tuesday with four counts each of homicide and several weapons charges.

Charlestown, sandwiched between Boston Harbor and the Mystic River, is known to tourists as the home of the Bunker Hill monument and the USS Constitution, the 19th-century warship dubbed Old Ironsides.

But to police, it is a place where murder witnesses rarely talk. Earlier this year, one local group said half of the 50 murders they have tracked in Charlestown since 1975 remain unsolved.

``It’s to the point where you don’t want to buy the newspaper anymore, you don’t want to watch the news,″ said Terry Titcomb, a neighborhood activist whose son was shot and killed a year ago.

Several residents complained that the shootings leave the impression the whole neighborhood is lawless.

``It’s never the good stuff, just the bad. It’s a few people who give (Charlestown) a bad name,″ said Anne McCarron, 63. ``Ninety-five percent of the people in Charlestown are warm, great people.″

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