In Boston’s worst multiple-murder in at least half a decade, four people, including a 2 or 3-year-old toddler, were gunned down on Woolson Street in Mattapan early Tuesday morning.

The shooting follows a continuing trend of innocent children being gunned down on the streets.

“We know who you are. Cowards kill. Cowards use guns to settle their scores. Cowards hide. Mattapan is strong and will not let them hide,” an angry Mayor Thomas M. Menino said Tuesday.

The other victims were adults. A fifth victim, another adult, was on life support and is not expected to survive.

“I think we share the same horror, the same outrage, and the same unwavering commitment to see justice done,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. “There can be no justification for what happened at Woolson Street. There can be no excuse for aiding the person or persons who murdered a helpless child.”

Officials promised to bring every asset to bear on the Mattapan neighborhood to find those responsible for the worst shooting since four men were killed in the basement of a home on Bourneside Street in Dorchester in December 2005.

“We will not rest until the facts are known,” Conley said.

Police did not speak to any possible motive for the killings.

“In our experience, though, violence of this magnitude is not committed randomly,” Conley said. “There is usually some connection between the victims and the killers. For this reason, we believe that there may be people out there with helpful information and, again, we urge them to come forward. The call is free and you may remain anonymous. In light of these horrible facts, silence is not a moral option."

The Boston Globe reported on Saturday that Boston has seen a 32 percent increase in homicides this year compared to this time last year.

Officials urged neighbors to call police with any information and not to seek vengeance directly.

"Now is not the time for vengeance or retaliation. Investigators are proceeding carefully and deliberately as they gather evidence, not only to identify the killer or killers but also to ensure that everything they gather will support a conviction down the road,” Conley said. “That’s where accountability lies — not in the street with vengeance and retaliation. We’re imploring the public to join us and share whatever they might know, whatever they might have seen or heard, with investigators.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Boston Police CrimeStoppers tip line at 1-800-494-TIPS, text the word "TIP" to CRIME (27463), or contact the Homicide Unit at 617-343-4470. You may remain anonymous.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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