Gunfight at Moakley Park has South Boston parents, politicians calling for stronger safety measures

A sunny and warm evening in South Boston’s Joe Moakley Park on Tuesday devolved into a “terrifying” shootout that left a woman injured, striking fear into nearby kids playing sports and sparking furor among their parents and local politicians who want the big park to be safer.

“A lot of people were at that field just yards away from that shooting,” Ann Kane of Boston Youth Lacrosse said on a Zoom meeting Wednesday night attended by parents, pols and cops a day after the exchange of gunfire in the park. “We have a number of kids who were exposed to gun violence and an active shooter.”

The cops were called to Moakley Park at 6:44 p.m. Tuesday for reports of a shooting, and they found a woman who told them that she was sitting at a picnic table when gunfire erupted. She told cops she heard “multiple shots being fired in every direction,” per the police report.

One of the bullets hit her in the leg, causing non-life-threatening injuries and sending her to the hospital, police said. No one has been arrested in connection with the shooting — and witnesses aren’t cooperating — and the police urge anyone with information to reach out to the department.

One parent in the Zoom call said there were about 100 “hooligans” around the basketball court when someone opened fire, sending bullets right past him.

“I heard whistles above my head as I was standing there,” he said.

South Boston C-6 Police Capt. Joe Boyle told the parents there was a cookout there — and that there were people with “different affiliations with different gangs” in the park, leading to the “exchange of gunfire.” He said they’d beef up patrols in the park.

City Councilor Ed Flynn, whose district includes Southie, told the Herald, “Parents and children were at the park at the time and witnessed the terrifying scene.”

Flynn said he’d like to see 300 to 400 new cops hired every year over the next decade in order to fill out the force and keep up with the wave of retirements.

State Sen. Nick Collins, whose district includes the area, said, “People deserve to feel safe and we need effective policing to make sure of that so you can go to a park. That requires adequate funding of our public safety departments.”

City Councilor Michael Flaherty, who has a citywide seat but lives near the park, said, “Moakley Park is a mess, and the conditions have been steadily declining over the past few years.”

“The Boston Parks Department and Boston Police Department need to collaborate immediately to get this under control,” Flaherty said. “That means no gangs, no guns, no public drinking, no discarded needles and no homeless encampments.”

The 50-acre park, named after the late congressman, is in line for a large overhaul by the city.

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