On five-year anniversary of girls’ shooting, police renew call for help finding the killer
It’s the fifth anniversary of the shooting that killed 16-year-old Charlene Holmes, with no arrests and no charges filed in connection with the crime, and Cambridge Police Commissioner Brent Larrabee and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan are renewing a call for help from the public.
“Five years ago, a 16-year-old young woman was walking down the street near her home when she was fatally shot,” Ryan said. “The loss of any young person is always heartbreaking to family, friends and loved ones, who are still awaiting answers five years later. We know from our investigation that there were witnesses present at the time of the shooting. We urge anyone who may have seen or heard something, no matter how seemingly insignificant, to come forward to authorities.”
At 8:02 p.m. June 3, 2012, police got a 911 call reporting a shooting on Willow Street and arrived to find Holmes and friend Thanialee Cotto, then 17, with gunshot wounds from an apparent drive-by shooting. The girls were taken to a local hospital, where Holmes was pronounced dead from a single gunshot wound to the chest.
They are not believed to have been the intended targets. Witnesses said the shooting was “calculated” and “retaliation,” with the person getting his hair braided by Cotto the intended target; Holmes had only been walking past with her sister. “Charlene was not a part of that gang out there,” confirmed a mourner at Holmes’ home days later.
“The boy for whom the bullet was meant lived in a house of Section 8 units that were a constant source of consternation in the neighborhood,” said reporter Kristina Kehrer said in a 2014 report via Cambridge Community Television, referring to it as well-documented “problem” house.
“No one will tell them what they know, because they’re scared that they’ll be snitching … a couple people in the neighborhood know,” said one participant in Kehrer’s video examining the stalled investigation. “But they’re not saying.”
That was the year police discovered area surveillance footage showing the car used in the shooting – a black four-door sedan, possibly a Nissan with tinted windows – circling the block once, then returning as shots were fired.
Anyone who may recognize the vehicle is urged to contact authorities. Since the incident occurred, Cambridge Police and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office “have remained committed to finding the person responsible for Charlene Holmes’ death,” the officials said in a press release.
“This incident remains deeply personal for the officers that were on-scene that night five years ago and have since actively worked the investigation,” Larrabee said. “We remain committed to bringing closure to Charlene’s family and friends, as well as all of those affected by this incident. We want to stress that any information related to the tragic events that occurred on June 3, 2012, is valuable information.”
Members of the public with information they believe may be helpful to the investigation may contact Massachusetts State Police at (781) 897-6600 or Cambridge Police Criminal Investigations Section at (617) 349-3370. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by calling (617) 349-3359, online at cambridgepolice.org/tips or by sending a text message to Tip411 (847411), beginning the message with “Tip650.”