Deadly Silence

Maritza Rodriguez, Shaian Colon’s mother, reflects on the unsolved shooting of her son in Brockton. (Craig Murray/The Enterprise)

Silent streets: Part 1

The search for a killer

By Maureen Boyle, Enterprise staff writer
   BROCKTON — Larissa Rodrigues stood by her boyfriend’s bedside, praying the couple’s unborn child would be the miracle to pull him through.
   “Stay here,” she pleaded. “Stay here.”
   Shaian Colon, her boyfriend, was in the intensive care unit at Boston Medical Center, hooked to life support, after he had been shot twice — once in the head, once in the neck — on Brockton’s troubled Green Street.
   “Remember, you promised me,” she reminded him through tears. “You promised me you would never leave.”
   Larissa saw something flicker in his eyes.
    “He heard something. Every time I mentioned the baby, the tears would come down his eyes,” she recalled later. “I know he heard me.”
   Seventeen-year-old Colon was one of 48 people shot — and one of more than 600 gun-related incidents — that year, 2006. It was, on the surface, just another shooting in a city where the sound of gunfire in some neighborhoods is common.
   But for one family it marked the start of a yearlong search for justice and a questioning of street codes that enveloped some of their lives.
   This is the story of life when the shooting stops, when the tears continue and when witnesses stay silent.

Mother struggles
   With a sigh of relief, Maritza Rodriguez dropped off her 17-year-old son, Shaian Colon, at the B.B. Russell Alternative School at 8:30 on the morning of Oct. 10, 2006.
   Shaian was on probation, just off a monitoring bracelet. Going to school was a priority. School was a safe haven from the streets. She told him that more than once.
   But it was hard at times keeping the smiling Shaian on the straight and narrow. He was the youngest of her eight children. His father, Carlos, was in and out of jail for much of his childhood and raising the children fell to Rodriguez.
   It was hard to keep away the influences of the street, and Green Street in particular where they lived.
   “Shootings. There were shootings,” she said. “In the middle of the night, they would run to my room and I knew I had to get out of there.”
   The family moved to Belmont Street when Shaian was nearly 13, but the seeds of Green Street had taken root in his life. His mother asked the courts for help. He was arrested a few times, including once for selling marijuana to what turned out to be an undercover cop.
   Rodriguez said she kept telling him to be careful, to stay off the street, to stay in school. She kept pushing ahead, never giving up.

Street life beckons
   For a while, it worked.
   Shaian found work with a relative, was going to school regularly at the alternative high school — probation on the drug charges still hanging over his head — and was talking about joining the Army.
    His girlfriend was pregnant with their first child. His father was out of jail. And he stopped going back to Green Street.
   Then things changed.
   Shaian was laid off from his job. The baby, a boy, was born premature and died. And Green Street began to slowly beckon him back.
   About noon on Oct. 10, 2006, Shaian called his mother.
    “I asked him where he was and he told me he was on Green Street. I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to go and pick you up,’” she said. “I had a bad feeling.”
    Shaian was standing in the driveway of a Green Street house when she pulled up.
    Rodriguez looked sternly into her son’s eyes. “Get out of Green Street. I don’t want you here,” she said.
   A few minutes and he would be gone, he told her.

Girlfriend waits
   Larissa Rodrigues, 16, was miffed when she saw her boyfriend at a Hamilton Street house that afternoon.
   “I’m going home,” she told him. “Come home.”
   Shaian Colon, the boy she loved since sixth grade, was on the porch hanging out with a sister, niece and one of his brothers. But something seemed wrong and Larissa felt a flash of anger.
   “Come home,” she said.
   “Later,” he told her.
   Larissa — now two months pregnant with a second baby — went home and waited.
   “For some reason, I was mad,” Larissa said. “I just had a bad feeling. I just wanted him to go home.”
   Later in the night, Shaian called to say he was on Green Street with Rosando Marcelino, a childhood friend.
   “He said that he was going to go home soon,” Larissa said. “He said Rosando was going to give him a ride home. ‘Go to sleep,’” he said.
   She finally did.

Father hopes all is OK
   Carlos Colon was renovating his girlfriend’s Mansfield condominium when the cell phone rang in the late afternoon of Oct. 10, 2006.
   It was his son, Shaian, again. Asking for money. Asking if he knew where his friend could buy an ounce of marijuana.
   Carlos spent much of his adult life in prison on drug charges and didn’t want the same for his son.
   “No,” Carlos told him, before hanging up.
   Shaian called back four times, asking the same question. Each time, his father gave the same answer.
   Carlos went to bed that night, convinced his son was home and asleep.

Gunfire erupts
   Shaian Colon leaned over in the passenger seat of the minivan parked in the driveway at 249 Green St. and slipped the Mobb Deep CD into the player.
   “Listen to this,” he told Rosando Marcelino.
   Marcelino, 20, sitting in the driver’s seat, fiddled with the track on the player and prepared to settle back and listen.
   Marcelino had jumped into the van a few minutes earlier after the girl who was driving dashed into the house.
   He was eager to talk with Colon, to “chill” with the boy who was once his neighbor, and another friend, who was in the back seat.
   A man walked up to the passenger side of the van. Marcelino heard the shots.
   The shooting, he would say later, was a blur.
   “I just heard the first two gunshots and after that I blacked out,” Marcelino said.

No one talks
   The phone rang at 12:59 a.m. Oct. 11, 2006 in the basement dispatch room at Brockton police headquarters.
   A state police dispatcher was on the phone, saying a man called 911 on a cell phone, yelled about a shooting, then hung up. Three minutes later, someone on Green Street called the police to say someone was shot.
   Detectives George Almeida, Nazaire Paul and Samuel Carde had just pulled into the Hess gasoline station on the city’s north side, minutes from Green Street, when the call came in.
   Shots fired, 249 Green St.
   The three detectives were familiar with the area. They had just driven by Green Street and that house, a spot known for trouble. It had been quiet then. Eerily quiet.
   “You got to be kidding me,” Almeida thought. “We just left there.”
   When the detectives pulled up, people began to spill onto the street. Ambulances arrived to take Marcelino and Colon to the hospital. Nextels chirped in the night.
   The detectives talked to the man in the back seat, then worked the crowd, searching for answers.
   The man in the backseat said he knew nothing.
   The people on the street, some still chatting on cell phones, insisted they knew nothing.
   The code of silence was closing in on the dark street.