Thursday, June 20, 2024

Shell casings are marked as evidence late Tuesday in a Somerville gunfire incident. (Photo: Somerville Police Department via Twitter)

A state police gang unit is saying a gang out of Cambridge with an enduring feud in Somerville may be tied to a gunfire incident Tuesday.

Somerville police got calls and two ShotSpotter technology activations for gunfire at 9:02 p.m. Tuesday, first at 31 Temple St., a residential area just off the busy Broadway thoroughfare in the Winter Hill neighborhood. Reports said people were shooting at each other from two SUVs – one teal green and the other possibly a black Jeep Grand Cherokee that state police suspected was tied to Cambridge’s Port 44 gang.

The SUVs sped west on Broadway, and more shots were fired on Main Street between Moreland and Fremont streets, police said.

Police found approximately 16 shell casings on Temple Street as well as damage to businesses across Broadway, including Mamma Lisa’s Pizzeria and a Metro by T Mobile phone shop, according to scanner reports. “Numerous parked cars sustained damage after being struck by stray bullets” as well, police said. Another 16 shell casings were found on Main Street.

There were no known injuries.

Interim Somerville police chief Charles Femino said Wednesday that he would add patrols and deploy more resources in the areas. “Although we believe there is no ongoing threat to the immediate area, we ask residents to remain alert and report any suspicious activity,” police said.

Mamma Lisa’s Pizzeria on Broadway in Somerville was hit by gunfire Tuesday, police say. (Photo: Marc Levy)

About 15 minutes after the gunfire, police dispatchers sent out a general alert that a “state police gang unit is reporting possible Port 44 involvement. We have no further information at this time.”

Clashes go back to at least the early 2000s between Cambridge and Somerville gangs: The Port 44 gang (sometimes written Port44) out of Cambridge’s The Port neighborhood and tied by the FBI to its public housing projects; and Somerville’s MP-45 gang, similarly associated with that city’s Mystic Housing Projects. They are part of battles that in one 18-month period led to “650 separate shootings and over 1,900 rounds fired” in Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea, Malden, Everett, Lynn and other communities, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit cited in an April 2021 post on Universal Hub.

Police in Somerville reported a bust in May 2021 that involved eight law enforcement agencies – everyone from itself and Cambridge police to the U.S. Secret Service – involving targets “identified as having ‘Port44’ gang ties/affiliations. For several years, the ‘Port44’ gang were suspected in the trafficking of fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and other types of illegal controlled substances, as well as participating in numerous homicides and other violent crimes that have been believed to have stemmed from dealing drugs and an ongoing drug turf war against other rival gangs in the Cambridge-Somerville area.”

“Numerous innocent residents have become victims from their wake of violence,” Somerville police said.

Some have tied a ramp-up in violence to the killing of Somerville High School graduate Kevin Raymond, 20, one of a pair of killings that took place Oct. 14, 2017, in Cambridge and, in Raymond’s case, on Canal Lane in Somerville. An Everett man named Tony Harris, now 33, was arrested and charged in Raymond’s shooting; in charging him in a 2016 domestic abuse incident, Beverly police said he was a member of the Bloods street gang and Port 44, according to The Salem News.

Harris pleaded not guilty to killing Raymond, but in the meantime pleaded guilty to other charges and in August 2018 was sentenced to five years in prison.