Hub’s ATF chief, residents talk guns and street violence in unique meeting

ATF Chief: Isaura Mendes, mother of two murdered sons, reaches out to Guy Thomas, head of Boston’s ATF office, at Sunday afternoon’s meeting at St. Peter’s Teen Center. Photo by Stephen Kurkjian

By STEPHEN KURKJIAN, Special to the Reporter

The accounts of loss and grief that violent death has brought in recent years to an increasing number of Dorchester families, particularly inside the Cape Verdean population, brought nods of recognition from the well-dressed, heavy-set man at the microphone at St. Peter’s Teen Center on Sunday afternoon.

For Guy Thomas, who recently took over as head of the Boston office of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, there was a tie beyond his crime-fighting interests that bound him to the 40 or so people who showed up to hear him and several Boston Police commanders speak: Born and raised in the projects of New Haven, Thomas saw one of his cousins killed and two others wounded on the streets of his boyhood neighborhood.

“I know firsthand the pain that comes from losing a family member like this,” he said. “You never get over it.”

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At ‘sober homes,’ issues of safety inside, safeguards outside

Aaron Larget-Caplan: Group home next door was source of frustration in Uphams Corner.

Pat Tarantino and Stephen Kurkjian, Special to the Reporter

Second of two parts.

Three years ago, a series of newspaper articles raised serious questions of safety and supervision in the operation of so-called “sober homes” throughout the city of Boston, prompting city and state political leaders to call for desperately needed reforms to assure that recovering substance abusers who lived in these homes had a chance for recovery.

The articles in the Boston Herald and the Bay State Banner found poor living conditions in many sober homes, including the fact that two men had fatally overdosed in one Roxbury sober-living complex, spurring local and state officials and leaders in the fight against substance abuse to call for controls on the homes to make certain that residents received the help they needed to stay clean while ensuring the homes did not pose a safety threat to neighbors.

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