I recently spent a couple of hours on Hazelton Street in Mattapan and wanted to stay. I so enjoyed talking to everyone I met and thought about how wonderful it would be if they were my neighbors. Everyone I ran into was incredibly helpful and brimming with pride. Maybe because they knew their neighborhood isn’t just about murder and mayhem, it’s also about heros!
That morning on Hazelton, two teenage sisters ran into a burning building to save an elderly woman. They didn’t have to, they say they hesitated a moment before going in, but in the end they did it because it was the right thing to do. News of their altruism quickly spread across the neighborhood! By the time I arrived, hours after the fire, neighbors kept pulling me aside, asking me if I’d heard about the two teenage girls who saved this 93-year-old woman. I had and I was desperate to tell their story.
Hazelton Street sits off Blue Hill Avenue, just around the corner from where gunmen shot five and killed four people, including a two-year-old last month in Mattapan. I covered that quadruple murder in Mattapan for five days. Over and over, I witnessed the very public displays of shock, fear, grief and anger. It was a difficult week, as neighbors grew, understandably, tired of news crews overrunning their streets – taking up precious parking spaces, illuminating their quiet lives with our bright lights on top of cameras and rigid microphones in their faces. I got the sense many were torn between having us doggedly pursue this story so their small neighborhood’s murders would not be forgotten, and wishing us away so they can hunker down and get back to the business of living their lives again.
We eventually left. We reported on the one arrest police made in connection with the murders and when that man, Kimani Washington, returned to Boston to appear in court. But until some big new developments, we likely won’t return and we’ll recall the horrific event as an alliteration: the Mattapan Murders or the Mattapan Massacres.
So when I got an assignment to come back to Mattapan on Wednesday, I could see why everyone was brimming with pride. Around the corner from where shooters took the lives of four people… two teenage girls had run into a burning home to save a life. For neighbors, it’s a paradigm shift; Mattapan isn’t synonymous with murders, it is where ordinary yet magnanimous families live.
Click here for the teens’ heroic story. It’s not posted for very long so take a look!