Emerson grad. student calls in Allston shooting

by Beacon Staff • April 9, 2008

Despite student residents in Allston saying they feel safe in their neighborhoods, Conant's early-morning awakening turned out to be the first reported homicide of the year in the Allston-Brighton area.,When Emerson graduate student Angela Conant called police after the the blare of gunshots woke her up last Sunday, she did not know she was reporting a murder.

Despite student residents in Allston saying they feel safe in their neighborhoods, Conant's early-morning awakening turned out to be the first reported homicide of the year in the Allston-Brighton area.

Luis G. Ortiz was fatally shot on Linden Street at around 2:20 am on March 30. Thomas B. Madding, an acquaintance of the victim, was arrested and charged with the crime.

A report released by the Boston Police Department confirmed that the crime was the first of its kind this year in the Allston-Brighton area.

Preliminary 2007 crime statistics listing reported incidents from Jan. 1 through Oct. 8 show no reported homicides in Allston, and only two were reported in both 2006 and 2005.

Conant, a communication sciences and disorders major, was able to see the car where the victim lay wounded from her apartment building.

"I heard a woman screaming that a man had been shot," she said.

Despite the Ortiz murder, the latest statistics from the Boston Police Department show there have been 113 less reported crimes-which includes homicide, rape, burglary, larceny, assault and vehicle theft-in Allston-Brighton from Jan. 1 to March 23, compared to the same time last year. The biggest dip has been in burglary, which went down from 127 occurrences to 53.

Conant said that she knew crimes like burglary were prevalent in the area, but hadn't thought that more violent incidents could happen literally right outside her window.

"Most of what goes on is usually just drunk college kid stuff," she said.

Deputy Chief of Public Safety Scott Bornstein said that he thinks Allston is a great area because the large student population can provide companionship that might not be found in other sections of Boston, adding to the overall undergraduate college experience.

However, he also said that no matter the neighborhood, people should always be aware of their personal safety.

Bornstein said that off-campus students can report any crimes that have happened to the ECPD, although he recommends calling the Boston Police Department if there has been a serious occurrence.

The most serious crimes that have been reported are robberies, usually that have happened late at night on the Boston Common.

"We've been lucky so far, because no real violent crimes have occurred to the any students," he said.

Erik Zeidses des Plantes said that while the weekend bar crowd can be hectic in his Allston neighborhood, it has a good student atmosphere, and he does not consider it an unsafe area.

The sophomore print journalism major said crime was not an issue when apartment hunting.

Although he has heard reports about burglaries, and even a sexual assault case occurring in the Allston-Brighton area, Zeidses des Plantes said that they seem to be isolated incidents.

Sophomore Chris Balchum, a print journalism major who also lives in Allston, said he's heard of crimes happening in the area, but has never personally witnessed anything that has made him fear for his safety.

Balchum added that even though his own apartment building has been broken into in the past, he does not think that crime is an issue that would make him considering moving out of the area.

"I've lived in bad neighborhoods before," he said. "And besides, a lot of Boston is unsafe anyway."